Google eases pandemic rules for US employees

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Google eases pandemic rules for US employees

As Google prepares to bring workers back to its offices, the company is easing some of its COVID-19 workplace policies, including a rule requiring US employees to be vaccinated. But employees will still have to be vaccinated if they plan to use the company’s offices.

In an email to San Francisco Bay Area employees last week, Google said it was easing some of its pandemic restrictions. Employees will no longer be required to test weekly to enter its US offices. Also, with the exception of Santa Clara County, which is home to Google’s main Mountain View headquarters, employees will not be required to wear masks in the office.

Google also said that it plans to restore many of its well-known office facilities, such as fitness centers, cafeterias, massage services and commuter shuttles. CNBC had previously reported the change in policies.

“Based on the current circumstances in the Gulf region, we are pleased that our employees who choose to come now have the ability to access more locations and services on the site,” Google wrote in a statement.

Separately, the company has dropped its requirement that US employees provide proof of vaccination status or apply for medical or religious exemptions, said Google spokeswoman Lora Lee Erickson.

Last year, Google said that employees who failed to do so would be placed on administrative leave and could eventually be fired. Ms Eriksson did not say why the company changed its position.

Like many companies, Google has had to adapt its policies to the ever-changing circumstances of the pandemic. It has repeatedly pushed back plans for when it would ask employees to start working on a hybrid schedule that mixes remote work and time in the office.

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Google’s offices are a key component of its work culture, and the company has resisted moving away entirely like other technology companies.

Rather than a global mandate, Google has repeatedly said it would allow different regions to determine when workers would begin to need to come in a few times a week. In the United States, Google said, it is still assessing the exact time to begin rolling out its hybrid work schedule and has not set a date for workers to return to the office.

Returning to the office is still voluntary, Google said last week, adding that about 30 percent of its Bay Area employees came to the office.

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