Covid-19 has switched everyone’s lives upside down and affected professional services like never before. Vaccination is a dilemma not just for Google but in the whole corporate world.
In crucial times like these, according to internal communications viewed by CNBC, calling on the Big Tech giant to retract its COVID-19 vaccine mandate, several hundred employees have signed and circulated a manifesto opposing the vaccination.
Google has reportedly asked more than 150,000 US employees to report their vaccination status irrespective of whether they work in the office or not, in response to the Biden administration that has ordered U.S. companies with more than 100 workers to ensure their employees are fully vaccinated, by January 4th.
Google has made vaccination mandatory for all employees working directly or indirectly with federal government contracts. However, nearly 600 Google employees or less than 0.5 percent of the company’s workforce have signed the manifesto opposing the mandate.
The situation has become tricky for Google’s leadership as they will have to strike out a perfect balance between employees’ reservation against vaccination and, at the same time, winning healthcare deals for the company.
In an email sent near the end of October, Chris Rackow, Google VP of security, emphasized the necessity of vaccination.
“Vaccines are key to our ability to enable a safe return to the office for everyone and minimize the spread of Covid-19 in our communities,” said Rackow.
Rackow further mentioned that because the company was already implementing requirements, changes suggested by Biden’s executive were minimal. However, his email stated a deadline of November 12, until this time employees can request exemptions for reasons such as religious beliefs or medical conditions, and he mentioned that exceptions would be granted on a case-by-case basis.
However, the opposing manifesto signed by at least 600 employees further asked employees to “oppose the mandate as a matter of principle” and stay firm on their decision and not let the policy alter it if they’ve already chosen not to get the Covid vaccine.
On the one hand, employees are expected to return to physical offices three days a week from January 10; on the other, a small portion of Google’s overall workforce has signed the document, momentum could grow.
From debating everything from government contracts to cafeteria food changes, sometimes spurring the company to change course, this manifesto is another example of how outspoken Google employees are. The United States continues to struggle to persuade more than 60 million Americans who remain unvaccinated to get their first dose, despite the effectiveness of the vaccination in providing a high level of protection against hospitalization and death.
Sunday Pichai, CEO – Alphabet Inc, stated that while the New York offices are seeing nearly half of employees back and the San Francisco Bay Area offices, near its headquarters, are up to 30% filled, employees who don’t want to get vaccinated would be able to continue working remotely. Pachai also announced in July that the company would require vaccinations for those returning to offices.
According to the manifesto, this mandate is not the first step, but the company has other steps to persuade employees to get vaccinated as well, like vice president of data centers at Google, Joe Kava announced a $5,000 vaccination incentive spot bonus for U.S. data center employees. In a nutshell, Google has fought tooth and nail on the broader fight against Covid, like in the first half of 2021, from Cue Health, which went public in September at a $3 billion valuation, it spent nearly $30 million at-home employee Covid tests. Not just this, but Google also teamed up with Apple in hopes of tracking the spread of the virus for an opt-in contact tracing software.