Intel Is Putting Unvaccinated Employees on Unpaid Leave Until Conditions Improve

Intel Is Putting Unvaccinated Employees on Unpaid Leave Until Conditions Improve
Photo: Justin Sullivan / Staff, Getty Images

Intel is the latest company to bench its unvaccinated employees amid a sudden surge in cases of Covid-19, reportedly issuing a warning to workers in a December 7th memo that anyone who doesn’t have the shot or have an exemption submitted by January 4th will be put on unpaid leave.

According to the Associated Press, which obtained a copy of the memo, Chief People Officer Christy Pambianchi informed employees that acceptable excuses include medical and religious exemptions, and said that the company would be reviewing those requests until March 15th. But if those exemptions are not granted, she added, unvaccinated employees will be placed on unpaid leave for at least three months beginning on April 4, but “will not be terminated” and will continue to receive their Intel-provided health benefits for the duration of their leave.

Intel first notified employees of the January 4 vaccination deadline back in November but hadn’t directly addressed what would happen to them if they failed to comply. The directive seems modelled in part after a similarly-styled Biden administration mandate that requires that federal contractors be vaccinated — a mandate that’s currently not seeming totally legally sound, at least as far as the courts are concerned. Intel, for its part, seems aware of that potential legal snafu.

“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,” the company told The Oregonian in a statement.

Intel isn’t the first tech company to crack the whip on employees who are delaying or refusing vaccination. Google employees are currently facing the threat of a 30-day administrative leave if they fail to provide their vaccination status or exemptions by January 13 — a suspension that, unlike Intel’s, could potentially leave them subject to termination. Facebook and Microsoft are also currently mandating that employees are fully vaccinated ahead of their office reopenings, both of which have been pushed back into 2022 as confirmed Covid cases continue to climb.