Illustration by Alex Castro / The Verge
Intel has reportedly notified employees that anyone who remains unvaccinated will need to get the COVID-19 vaccine or submit an exemption by January 4th. Otherwise, they face being put on unpaid leave, according to The Associated Press and The Oregonian.
In the December 7th memo obtained by both publications, Intel HR boss Christy Pambianchi said unvaccinated employees will need to seek an exemption or get weekly tests, even if they’re working from home. She also reportedly told employees that the company will review medical and religious exemptions up until March 15th of next year. The company initially put the January 4th vaccine deadline in place last month, but didn’t specify what would happen to unvaccinated employees if they didn’t comply.
If an employee’s exemption isn’t granted, they’ll be put on unpaid leave for at least three months starting on April 4th and “will not be terminated,” as Pambiachi reportedly puts it. She also stated that Intel will still provide healthcare benefits to those on leave.
Intel’s vaccine requirement was put in place to comply with President Joe Biden’s vaccine mandate for companies with over 100 employees. However, federal courts are still debating whether a sweeping mandate like this is constitutional. “We are closely monitoring the legal environment and expect it will take time for the case in Georgia, as well as other similar cases, to be fully resolved,” Intel said in a statement obtained by The Oregonian.
Google has also started cracking down on unvaccinated employees, and reportedly said that they will be placed on a 30-day administrative leave if they fail to get vaccinated or submit an exception by January 13th. If they’re still not vaccinated after the 30 days are up, they could be subject to unpaid leave and even termination, unlike at Intel. Facebook and Microsoft are also enforcing vaccine mandates — they’re requiring that employees get vaccinated before their offices reopen, which has been set back until 2022 for both companies. Apple hasn’t gone as far as any of its big tech counterparts; it hasn’t set a vaccine mandate. Apple does still require employees to take regular COVID tests, however.
The Verge reached out to Intel with a request for comment but didn’t immediately hear back.