Bulletins

IBM will suspend unvaccinated workers. What about other federal contractors?

The move comes after the White House issued an executive order requiring contractors' employees to be vaccinated by Dec. 8.

A view of an IBM building

Employees must be fully vaccinated by Dec. 8 "in order to work at IBM," the company stated.

IBM will suspend and stop paying its employees who refuse vaccination, CNBC reported Thursday.


The New York-based hardware giant told CNBC that it would weigh medical and religious exemptions for employees who request them. Unpaid leave is not termination, the company told Protocol: Employees on leave are still employed and get access to benefits.

But the company takes last month's guidance from the federal government seriously.

"As a federal contractor, it is a business imperative for IBM to comply with this mandate," IBM told employees this week, according to CNBC.

Employees must be fully vaccinated by Dec. 8 "in order to work at IBM," the company added. That date comes from the guidance that the Safer Federal Workforce Task Force released last month.

IBM is the first major tech company to announce such a policy — and it appears to be a recent development. Last month, IBM declined to say whether it would terminate unvaccinated employees.

"I think it's too soon on a lot of those questions," IBM spokesperson Amanda Carl told Protocol in a Sept. 20 email.

Other tech giants have played their cards close to the chest on whether they'll suspend or fire unvaccinated employees. And some still seem to be figuring out what the law requires.

Hewlett Packard Enterprise, another federal contractor, has previously said it would not fire employees who refuse vaccination.

But on Thursday, company spokesperson Adam Bauer told Protocol that the company was now "in the midst of analyzing what our compliance obligations are."

Google, Facebook, Uber, Lyft and Twitter have all declined to say whether they would fire employees who refuse vaccination.

Validity, a Boston-based startup with nearly 400 employees, told Protocol last month that it was willing to fire employees for not getting vaccinated, but that it hadn't needed to do so.
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