Google Will Eventually Require All Employees Get COVID Vaccine, Delays Office Return

Google is introducing a new policy which will require all employees to be vaccinated once offices are fully reopened, and is delaying the reopening of its offices for the third time.

In an email to Google's more than 130,000 employees, CEO Sundar Pichai announced that those working at the offices are required to be vaccinated when the campuses fully reopen.

The mandate is first being issued at Google's Mountain View, Calif. headquarters and other offices in the U.S. before it will apply to the Google offices in more than 40 other countries. Pichai stated the mandate will be adjusted for the laws and regulations of each location, and those with medical or other "protected" reasons may receive exceptions.

"Getting vaccinated is one of the most important ways to keep ourselves and our communities healthy in the months ahead," Pichai said.

The vaccination requirement and delayed reopening are both efforts made to help curb the spread of the highly contagious delta variant.

For more reporting from the Associated Press, see below.

Google headquarters
Google CEO Sundar Pichai announced in an email to Google employees July 28, 2021 that once offices fully reopen, employees are required to be vaccinated. Above, logo with signage in front of Building 44 at the headquarters of Google Inc in Mountain View, California, April 7, 2017. Smith Collection/Gado/Getty Images

Pichai said the company is now aiming to have most of its workforce back to its offices beginning Oct. 18 instead of its previous target date of Sept. 1. The decision also affects tens of thousands of contractors who Google intends to continue to pay while access to its campuses remains limited.

"This extension will allow us time to ramp back into work while providing flexibility for those who need it," Pichai wrote.

Google's decision to require vaccines to be in the office comes on the heels of similar moves affecting hundreds of thousands government workers in California and New York as part of stepped-up measures to fight the Delta variant.

The rapid rise in cases during the past month has prompted more public health officials to urge stricter measures to help overcome vaccine skepticism and misinformation.

The vaccine requirement rolling out in California next month covers more than 240,000 government employees. The city and county of San Francisco is also requiring its roughly 35,000 workers to be vaccinated or risk disciplinary action after the Food and Drug Administration approves one of the vaccines now being distributed under an emergency order.

It's unclear how many of Google's workers still haven't been vaccinated, although Pichai described the rate as high in his email.

Google's decision to extend its remote-work follows a similar move by another technology powerhouse, Apple, which recently moved its return-to-office plans from September to October, too.

The delays by Apple and Google could influence other major employers to take similar precautions, given that the technology industry has been at the forefront of the shift to remote work that has been triggered by the spread of the novel coronavirus.

Even before the World Health Organization declared a pandemic in March 2020, Google, Apple and many other prominent tech firms had been telling their employees to work from home.

Google's vaccine requirement also could embolden other employers to issue similar mandates to guard against outbreaks of the Delta variant and minimize the need to wear masks in the office.

While most companies are planning to bring back their workers at least a few days a week, others in the tech industry have decided to let employees do their jobs from remote locations permanently.

Google logo
Google CEO Sundar Pichai announced in an email to Google employees on July 28, 2021, that Google would delay reopening its offices for a third time, moving the expected reopening date to mid-October. In this Thursday Nov. 1, 2018, file photo is the Google logo displayed at their offices in Granary Square, in London. Alastair Grant, File/AP Photo