Even as the debate surrounding vaccination and workplace policies thickens, Intel is forging ahead with current government-mandated rules for federal contractors. In a recent memo, the company told its employees that vaccination will be a requirement starting January 4th, 2022. Those who don't comply, or fail to present a legal exemption, could face unpaid leave.
Intel isn't taking the road that some other giants - like Boeing - are following. Some companies are playing the slow game in complying with federal-mandated vaccination requirements. In addition, questions still surround the constitutionality of such a mandate. Several legal battles are ongoing, with a Georgia federal court recently ruling against the mandate. However, the federal government seems poised to take that particular battle to the Supreme Court for a final, albeit likely distant, decision. In the intervening time, Intel is choosing to adhere to federal requirements.
"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 written statement to Oregon Live. "In the meantime, we remain focused on keeping our employees regularly informed of updates, required actions, and next steps – which at present include preparing for testing and accommodation requests."
Intel currently employs around 110,000 professionals across the globe. Of those, around 21,000 alone are located in the company's headquarters in Oregon. The company is also aware of the potential danger (and impact) of COVID outbreaks to its workforce and productivity. So naturally, it isn't keen on losing manufacturing or research hours to forced closures over public health concerns.
Intel's policy has two milestones: the first one states that employees must be vaccinated by January 4th. Those who haven't been vaccinated by that time will need to endure weekly COVID testing procedures, whether they work in an Intel facility or remotely. The weekly testing phase will end by April 4th, 2022. At that time, the company will transition any unvaccinated employees toward up to three months of unpaid leave. Of course, employees can seek a vaccination exemption on religious or health-related grounds; the company will also accept exemption requests until March 15th, 2022.
Intel's Chief People Officer, Christy Pambianchi, reiterated that these employees would not have their contracts terminated at the designated milestones. Instead, the company will adapt its strategy as legal, federal and pandemic events unfurl. Pambianchi wrote that Intel will "[evaluate] options throughout the first quarter of 2022." That sounds like a reasonable stance, considering the matter at hand.