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Google Set to Fire Unvaccinated Employees

Google and Apple are accused of bowing to Kremlin pressure in the banning of an app that would have enabled Russian voters to access information. Credit: The Pancake of Heaven, CC BY-SA 4.0

Google announced on Tuesday that it will give its employees until January 18 to get their vaccination against Covid-19 or apply for an exemption.

The company’s vaccine mandate became public on Tuesday, but the tech giant’s employees were notified internally earlier this month on December 3. If employees fail to provide proof of their vaccination by January 18, they will be put on paid administrative leave for 30 days and unpaid personal leave for six months. If they still do not provide proof of their vaccination after this seven month time period, they will be fired.

“We expect that almost all roles at Google in the US will fall within the scope of the executive order,” read the company’s internal memo. “Anyone entering a Google building must be fully vaccinated or have an approved accommodation that allows them to work or come onsite.” 

The memo also clarified that there would be no option to test out:

“Frequent testing is not a valid alternative to vaccination,” it said.

After the new policy became public, a spokesperson for Google told Ars Technica that the company introduced the mandate as a form of protection for their employees:

“As we’ve stated before, our vaccination requirements are one of the most important ways we can keep our workforce safe and keep our services running. We’re committed to doing everything possible to help our employees who can get vaccinated do so, and firmly stand behind our vaccination policy.”

The multinational tech company’s internal memo arrived just three weeks after a federal court decided not to lift a stay on president Joe Biden’s executive order calling for companies with over 100 employees to introduce vaccine mandates. The issue is making its way to the Supreme Court, but it seems like Google will be setting its own rules whether or not Biden’s order still applies to them.

Biden’s vaccine mandate frozen in federal court

A US federal appeals court froze President Biden’s sweeping vaccine mandate last month, citing “grave statutory and constitutional” issues with the order.

The mandate, which Biden first announced in September, will affect over 100 million workers in the United States. He announced on Thursday that his new vaccine mandate for companies with over 100 workers will be place starting on January 4, 2022.

The order faced massive push back, especially from Republican-led states, when it was announced in October. It was expected to face challenges in the court.

Biden faces court challenges

Despite the stay issued by the United States Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit, Seema Nanda, US Solicitor of Labor, is “confident in its legal authority,” as written in a statement.

The ruling came after businesses and the states of Texas, Mississippi, Louisiana, South Carolina, and Utah petitioned the court to rule on the mandate.

The mandate has two separate sections that affect certain workers differently. The first part pertains to companies that employ 100 or more people, and requires that these workplaces get their employees fully vaccinated by the deadline, or submit unvaccinated employees to weekly Covid testing.

This section of the mandate was given by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, and OSHA also stipulates that companies are required to compensate their workers for the time they spent getting the shots. It will apply to roughly 80 million workers.

But the rule also says that employers are not required to pay for the testing of unvaccinated employees that refuse the shots. This is widely seen as a tactic to encourage affected workers to take the route of vaccination.

The second part of the new mandate which affects health care workers differs from the first part in that these workers do not have the option to test out weekly. A total of 17 million health care workers must provide proof of full vaccination against Covid by January 4.

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