Vaccine mandates | What Google's U-turn on controversial 'no jab, no job' rule means for HR

What Google's U-turn on controversial 'no jab, no job' rule means for HR

Google has reversed plans to require all workers to be vaccinated against COVID in order to keep their jobs, according to reports in CNBC.

The news outlet reports that the firm will no longer consider sacking or suspending its US employees who choose not to get jabbed, marking a U-turn on the company’s major decision which had been announced in late 2021.

A similar rules requiring any workers visiting its campuses to provide weekly negative COVID tests has also been scrapped, according to an internal memo from David Radcliffe, Google’s VP of real estate and workplace services, as seen by CNBC.

But Google will still stop any staff from visiting its offices unless they have either been vaccinated or have had their visit approved by a manager, according to reports.

Late last year, the tech giant had been one of the first major employers to confirm that it was considering making coronavirus vaccination a mandatory condition of working for the company.

At the time, The Verge reported that the multi-national company released an internal memo to staff stating that new regulations within its US arm would mean that those who refuse to be vaccinated against COVID-19 could be put on forced leave and then let go from the company if they fail to follow its COVID-19 rules.

According to the internal memo, Google gave its employees until December 3 to upload proof of vaccination or receive approval for a medical or religious exemption. It added that anyone who fails to follow these criteria by January 13 would then be placed on a 30-day paid administrative leave.

If after this period they still refuse to comply, they could face unpaid leave for up to six months and then be terminated, according to CNBC.

Now, in a statement provided to The Verge, Google spokesperson Lora Lee Erickson said: “We’re not enforcing vaccination requirements as a condition of employment for US office workers at this time.

“We’re continuing to implement our vaccination policy requiring COVID-19 vaccinations or approved accommodations for any individuals accessing our sites, because it’s one of the most important ways we can keep our workforce safe and keep our services running.”

Erickson added: “Google’s original vaccination policy announced last July remains in place, which requires COVID-19 vaccinations or approved accommodations for anyone accessing our sites”.

Rules requiring on-site staff in America to wear a face mask have also been dropped, with the exception of Google facilities in Santa Clara County, The Verge said.

Rise of ‘no jab, no job’ decisions

Although Google has now decided against its ‘no jab, no job’ policy, it's clear that firms are starting to take more hard-line approaches to vaccination policies, and forced vaccine-related terminations in the US may soon make their way across the pond.

In fact, data released in September 2021 revealed a massive 70% of HR leaders now require workers to have had both coronavirus vaccinations before they can return to in-person working.

According to the report published by Indeed Flex, the volume of jobs posting that require workers to prove their vaccination status skyrocketed by 116% between August and September 2021.

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The care homes sector, which from November made it a legal requirement to ensure all staff and volunteers are fully vaccinated against Covid-19 (unless exempt) according to an official statement from the Department of Health and Social Care', is among the industries posting the most jobs requiring jabs.

Other roles highly likely to require vaccination are to be found in customer service, cleaning and hospitality.

Nearly half of all HR leaders stated that, regardless of working arrangements, they would require all staff, unless medically exempt, to be fully vaccinated, whilst 22% stated that they would make jabs mandatory for all workers, regardless of seniority or tenure.

Only 15% of HR directors said vaccination status would have no bearing on their decision to return a staff member to the workplace or not.

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