A hot potato: Google is reportedly taking a hard line against employees who refuse to comply with its Covid-19 vaccination policy: they'll lose pay and could eventually lose their jobs. The only exception comes from medical or religious grounds, which Google said it would grant on a case-by-case basis.

According to CNBC, a memo circulated by Google’s leadership states that employees had until December 3 to declare their vaccination status and upload documents showing proof or apply for medical/religious exemption. It adds that anyone who has failed to comply with the vaccine rules or has had their exemption requests denied after that date will be contacted.

Any Googlers who still haven’t been vaccinated or granted an exemption by January 18 will face the consequences. First comes paid administrative leave for 30 days. If they still haven’t satisfied Google’s requirements during this time, they will be put on unpaid administrative leave for up to six months. Should the employees continue to refuse the vaccine or fail to receive exempt status, they will be fired.

Google, which will require its workers to come into the office for three days per week at some point next year, says it is following a Biden administration executive order. That order requires US companies with 100 or more employees to ensure their workers are fully vaccinated or regularly tested for Covid-19 by January 18. A federal court issued a stay on the order, but it seems Google is going ahead with its mandate anyway.

“Anyone entering a Google building must be fully vaccinated or have an approved accommodation that allows them to work or come onsite,” the company said, adding that “frequent testing is not a valid alternative to vaccination.”

Google recently delayed plans for its workers’ in-person return to the office on January 10, likely due to the emergence of the Omicron variant. However, it will still encourage employees to come in “where conditions allow, to reconnect with colleagues in person and start regaining the muscle memory of being in the office more regularly.”

There will be some options for those who don’t want to get vaccinated. Google has said employees could “explore” any roles at the company that don’t conflict with the executive order. If those roles can be performed outside of the office, the company said they will be able to “permanently work remotely going forward.”