Alphabet’s Google division has made clear to its staff the consequences if they don’t follow its vaccination rules and regulations.

In July this year, Google (and Facebook/Meta) became the first two tech giants to require their staff to be vaccinated against Covid-19, when they return to offices or campuses.

This prompted pushback from a small section of Google staff, after 600 staff last month signed a manifesto opposing firm’s widened Covid-19 vaccine mandate on workforce.

Vaccine consequences

But now CNBC has seen internal documentation sent to staff, which told Google employees that they will lose pay – and will eventually be fired – if they don’t comply with the company’s Covid-19 vaccination policy.

The memo circulated by Google’s management said staff had until 3 December to declare their vaccination status and upload documentation showing proof, or to apply for a medical or religious exemption.

The company reportedly said after that date it would start contacting employees who hadn’t uploaded their status or were unvaccinated, as well as those whose exemption requests weren’t approved.

The document stated that staff who haven’t complied with the vaccination rules by the 18 January deadline will be placed on “paid administrative leave” for 30 days.

After that, the company will put them on “unpaid personal leave” for up to six months, followed by termination.

A Google spokesperson didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment.

Tech response

Google is not alone here in this regard, but this is the first time that it has been publicly reported that a big tech player will actually fire staff if they don’t comply with the vaccine rules.

Vaccine mandates has been adopted by other tech firms, and it comes after the Biden administration ordered American companies with 100 or more staff to ensure their employees are fully vaccinated or regularly tested for Covid-19 by 18 January.

That said, a federal court issued a stay on the order in early November, putting a halt to the administration’s efforts.

Google meanwhile is requiring its workforce to return to the office three days a week from 10 January 2022.

Alphabet’s 150,000 employees are expected to upload their vaccination status to its internal systems, whether they plan to come into the office or not, and the company indicated that it plans to follow Biden’s order.

“We expect that almost all roles at Google in the US will fall within the scope of the executive order,” Google’s memo was quoted as saying by CNBC.

“Anyone entering a Google building must be fully vaccinated or have an approved accommodation that allows them to work or come onsite,” the company said, adding that “frequent testing is not a valid alternative to vaccination.”

Staff options

For the rebel staff at Google that don’t want to be vaccinated, Google has reportedly offered them some options.

According to CNBC, the company said employees can “explore” if there are any roles at Google that don’t conflict with the executive order.

They can also request exemptions for religious beliefs or medical conditions, which Google previously said would be granted on a case-by-case basis.

Staff with roles that happen to fall outside the scope of the executive order that can also be performed out of the office, the company said they will be able to “permanently work remotely going forward.”

Employees placed on unpaid personal leave will be able to keep their benefits for the first 92 days, the memo said.

If after six months they still aren’t in compliance with the mandate, “their employment with Google will end.”

Tom Jowitt

Tom Jowitt is a leading British tech freelancer and long standing contributor to Silicon UK. He is also a bit of a Lord of the Rings nut...

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