Google will fire unvaccinated employees in 2022

The policy will only apply to Google’s 150,000 US employees

A view of the outside of Google's Seattle office building at dusk

Google employees who choose not to be vaccinated against COVID-19 will lose pay and ultimately be fired.

Google staff members who fail to report their vaccination status or apply for a medical or religious exemption by 18 January 2022 will be placed on “paid administrative leave” for 30 days, according to a new company memo seen by CNBC.

If they are still unvaccinated after the 30 day window, they will be placed on “unpaid personal leave” for up to six months, during which time they will be able to keep their company benefits for the first 92 days. Following six months unpaid leave, the company will terminate their contract.

The policy, which was detailed in internal documents circulated by Google’s executives, only applies to Alphabet’s 150,000 employees in the US, with currently no plans to introduce similar steps in the UK.

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

However, unvaccinated employees working in roles that can be performed from home will be able to “permanently work remotely going forward”, the company added, although they will be unable to enter Google offices.

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The policy marks the first time that the tech giant has been specific about consequences for those unwilling to be vaccinated, since announcing its vaccination policy in July 2021. It also comes weeks after "several hundred" Google employees signed and circulated a manifesto opposing the plans, asking the company's leaders to retract the vaccine mandate and create a new one that is "inclusive of all Googlers". Calling on employees to "oppose the mandate as a matter of principle", the manifesto encouraged staff to not let the policy alter their decision if they've already opted not to get a vaccine.

Google was not immediately available to confirm CNBC’s reports.

The news comes as the company prepares for its repeatedly-delayed return to the office on 10 January 2022, announced by CEO Sundar Pichai in September. Applicable only to the US, Google has also stated that it will allow different countries and locations to decide when to end the voluntary work from home conditions, provided they give at least 30-days notice.

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