Google will require employees on its campuses to get vaccinated as it delays its office return. It’s the first mega-cap tech giant to do so.

Google CEO Sundar Pichai speaking against a white backdrop that says 'Google.'
Google CEO Sundar Pichai speaking during a developers conference. Stephen Lam/Reuters
  • Google is pushing its return-to-office plan to October 18, it told employees on Wednesday.
  • The company had previously told employees they would be expected back in September.
  • Employees who do return will need to be vaccinated, the company said.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

Google is delaying its return-to-office plans in response to a surge in coronavirus cases, the company announced on Wednesday.

Employees can continue to work from home through October 18, CEO Sundar Pichai wrote in a memo that Insider obtained. He also announced that employees who return to offices would need to be vaccinated against the virus.

Google recently reopened some of its offices for employees to return on a voluntary basis, but it said employees would not be required to come back until September. The rise in coronavirus cases driven by the more contagious Delta variant has pushed back that deadline by more than a month.

The company has more than 140,000 full-time employees, according to a recent regulatory filing.

“We are excited that we’ve started to re-open our campuses and encourage Googlers who feel safe coming to sites that have already opened to continue doing so,” Pichai wrote in the memo, which was later published on the company’s blog.

“At the same time, we recognize that many Googlers are seeing spikes in their communities caused by the Delta variant and are concerned about returning to the office. This extension will allow us time to ramp back into work while providing flexibility for those who need it.”

Google is the only tech giant so far to explicitly mandate COVID-19 vaccinations for its employees. Josh Lipton, a CNBC tech reporter, said in a tweet on Wednesday that Apple CEO Tim Cook was still unsure whether imposing the same rule at Apple was “the right answer.”

Apple also pushed its return-to-office date back to October in response to the surge in cases, The New York Times reported earlier this month.

Pichai said Google’s vaccination requirement would apply to US offices “in the coming weeks” and to other regions “in the coming months.”

Google has said that when employees do go back, it will increase flexibility around remote work, a response to employees’ pushing back on the company’s demand to have all employees back in its offices.

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