Intel notified employees Thursday that they must be vaccinated by Jan. 4 or submit to weekly tests, a step toward compliance in a pending federal vaccine mandate for government contractors.
The chipmaker is the state’s largest corporate employer, with 21,000 people working at its Washington County campuses. Its vaccine plans are indicative of the kinds of steps many other employers are likely considering as they prepare to comply with a federal mandate that applies to companies with more than 100 workers.
That mandate is in doubt, after a federal court in Louisiana put it on hold last week while the court considered the merits of a lawsuit brought by states, companies and religious groups. But Intel said it is imposing its mandate to comply with a separate mandate that applies to federal workers.
And Intel told employees Thursday that it is working with government agencies to delay the order until later in the first quarter in recognition of “the complexity and size of our workforce.”
Intel declined to elaborate on its plans and would not say what share of its workforce is already vaccinated.
Thursday’s employee memo indicated that Intel is finalizing a process to offer religious and medical exemptions and said it “will provide free and convenient testing for employees who have not provided proof of vaccination” by Jan. 4.
Intel announced last week that it will allow most employees to split their time between home and the office from now on, a recognition of the ways in which work has changed since the pandemic. But Thursday’s memo said the new vaccine mandate and testing rules apply no matter how much time workers spend on-site.
The vaccine mandate also applies to employees to contractors, interns, café workers, maintenance staff and others who do their jobs at Intel’s offices and factories.
Intel announced in August that it would pay bonuses of up to $350 to employees who voluntarily chose to be vaccinated.
“Thank you” payments will continue for employees who complete vaccinations by the end of this year, the company said Thursday, and it is preparing new “vaccine-related incentives and sweepstakes” that it will announce to employees next week.