Google employees to lose pay and eventually be fired if they don't get vaccinated

After a January 18 deadline non-compliant staff will be placed on paid leave for 30 days, followed by six months unpaid that may lead to their termination

Google employs around 150,000 globally, with about 100,000 in North America. AFP

Google will suspend employees who do not comply with its Covid-19 vaccine regulations and terminate them if they continue not to comply, according to an internal memo.

Google staff had until December 3 to provide proof of vaccination or apply for an exemption for medical or religious reasons, CNBC reported, citing the company memo. Management will start contacting unvaccinated employees on December 18.

The deadline for compliance is January 18, after which employees who have not adhered to the rules will be placed on "paid administrative leave" for 30 days, followed by a six-month "unpaid personal leave" with three months of benefits.

If an employee still does not comply after this period, Google will dismiss them.

The Alphabet-owned company told Android Central the policy was started in the US and will expand to offices in other countries "as local regulations permit". It remains unclear which countries would follow suit.

A Google spokesperson told The National on Thursday that the move is limited to the US as it is a government mandate. Any action Google will take for their employees in other regions will depend on local authorities’ guidelines.

“We firmly believe that 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,” the spokesperson added.

The technology giant's move stems from an order from the Biden administration that requires US companies with more than 100 employees to have their staff fully vaccinated or regularly tested on a weekly basis by January 18, a rule that covers 84 million employees. Washington also requires these companies to provide paid time to their staff to get vaccinated and sick leave to recover from any side effects.

The White House has not given any guidance on how to deal with employees who do not comply. Suspension or terminations are at the discretion of companies.

Google is among the big names in corporate America that is pushing for a vaccine mandate, a list that includes American Express, BlackRock, Cisco, Citigroup, Deloitte, Delta Air Lines, General Electric, Goldman Sachs, Facebook, Ford, McDonald's, Microsoft, Netflix, Walt Disney and Walmart, according to NBC.

Google is not the first organisation to terminate staff if they refuse to comply with vaccine rules.

In September, United Airlines said it would dismiss around 600 employees for declining to comply with its vaccine rules. Northwell Health, the state of New York's largest health care provider, fired about 1,400 in October.

The recently-discovered Omicron variant has also forced companies across the world to rethink their return-to-office plans.

Google employs around 150,000 globally, with about 100,000 in North America.

Updated: December 16th 2021, 8:35 AM