Monday, September 20, 2021

CNN fires staff for coming to work unvaccinated against Covid-19

Many major companies are now pushing back their return-to-work dates as Covid-19 rates rise again.

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CNN has fired three employees who violated company policy by coming to work unvaccinated against the Covid-19 virus.

Company chief Jeff Zucker told staff of the firing in a memo sent on Thursday that reminded them that vaccines were mandatory if they report to the office or out in the field where they come into contact with other employees, the AP is reporting.

“Let me be clear: we have a zero tolerance policy on this,” wrote Zucker, chairman of news and sports for WarnerMedia.

CNN offered no details on the firings, or where the employees were based.

Most of CNN’s offices are already open on a voluntary basis, and Zucker said more than a third of news staff members have returned. Proof of vaccination has been left to the honour system, he said, but that may change in coming weeks.

The CNN chief said masks will be required in workplaces when people aren’t eating, drinking or in an enclosed private space. Even in offices where mask-wearing is not mandated, people should do what feels comfortable to them “without any fear of retaliation or judgment from co-workers,” he said.

The CNN memo also said a planned Sept 7 company-wide return to the office will be delayed until at least early to mid-October because of the rise in Covid-19 cases

Other companies have been making similar decisions.

After previously announcing it expected corporate employees to return to the office on Sept 7 this year, Amazon has announced a further delay until Jan 3, 2022.

“As we continue to closely watch local conditions related to Covid-19, we are adjusting our guidance for corporate employees,” the company said in a statement.

Google and Microsoft also recently announced that they are delaying office returns until October 2021. Both companies will require that all employees returning to the office at that time be vaccinated.

Amazon is now encouraging a hybrid work structure, unlike in March this year, when it seemed eager to get everyone back to the office.

“Our plan is to return to an office-centric culture as our baseline. We believe it enables us to invent, collaborate, and learn together most effectively,” the company said.

Now, that return will be delayed for at least another five months.

“As organisations push return dates out further, there will be a greater need for flexibility on return-to-office requirements,” George Penn, vice president of Gartner HR told CNBC.

“If the company is performing well and individual employees are performing well remotely, many will ask the question: ‘Why are you mandating a return?’”

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