Protocol | Policy

Tech workers want vaccine mandates. Will their bosses bite?

A new survey suggests more than half of tech workers would consider quitting if their bosses didn't require employees to get the COVID-19 vaccine.

Tech workers want vaccine mandates. Will their bosses bite?

As more employees return to work, the topic of vaccine mandates will only become more relevant.

Image: Klaus Vedfelt/Getty Images

Tech giants were among the first to send their employees home at the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic. Now, as vaccines become more available, those same companies — Facebook, Uber, Microsoft and more — are slowly but surely beginning to bring them back.

But a new survey from Qualtrics suggests tech workers are more wary than most about returning to the office before their colleagues are vaccinated.

According to data shared exclusively with Protocol, more than 50% of respondents from the tech industry said they'd consider leaving their jobs if their employer doesn't require employees to get vaccinated. Just 37% of the general population surveyed said the same.

Tech industry employees were also far more likely than the rest of the workforce to support vaccine mandates in general. More than 80% of tech workers who responded said they'd support such mandates at their place of work. That's compared to 66% among the broader pool of respondents. The only other industry that voiced as much support for vaccine mandates was financial services. Health care workers, meanwhile, were among the least enthusiastic about mandates.

While the sample size in this survey is limited (there were 148 techies in the survey pool of 1,003 people) tech workers' hesitancy to return to work without assurances that their officemates will be vaccinated could complicate companies' plans to reopen. Since last year, tech giants like Facebook have contemplated a future in which a large portion of employees work remotely forever. But CEO Mark Zuckerberg made clear that it's the company that will ultimately decide whether to give an employee permission to work from home permanently, based on things like that employee's performance review and level of experience.

Microsoft, meanwhile, has said that while hybrid work will be part of its future, once COVID-19 "no longer presents a significant burden on our communities," workers will be expected to spend no more than 50% of their working time at home. And Google has floated the idea of a "flexible work model," where employees spend at least three days working from the office per week.

Even as they design these return-to-work plans, touting the increase in vaccine access across the country, few companies have said whether getting a vaccine will be a prerequisite to returning to work. Such a requirement would undoubtedly invite the ire of conservative lawmakers who are increasingly voicing opposition to Biden administration efforts to create vaccine passports, which would prove a person's vaccination status. Civil liberties groups like the Electronic Frontier Foundation have expressed concern about the idea, as well.

There are also laws that dictate whether employers are allowed to issue such mandates. But in California, home to the heart of the tech industry, they can, as long as they don't discriminate against or harass employees based on a protected characteristic, like their religion or a disability. Still, some legal experts question whether businesses can issue mandates on the COVID-19 vaccines that are currently available, since they received emergency use authorization, not official FDA approval.

For now, tech companies are just beginning to tiptoe back into office life. But as more employees are required to return to work and vaccines become more plentiful, the topic of vaccine mandates will only become more relevant, making it critical for companies to know where their employees stand.


How the creators of Spligate built gaming’s newest unicorn

1047 Games is now valued at $1.5 billion after three rounds of funding since May.

1047 Games' Splitgate amassed 13 million downloads when its beta launched in July.

Image: 1047 Games

The creators of Splitgate had a problem. Their new free-to-play video game, a take on the legendary arena shooter Halo with a teleportation twist borrowed from Valve's Portal, was gaining steam during its open beta period in July. But it was happening too quickly.

Splitgate was growing so fast and unexpectedly that the entire game was starting to break, as the servers supporting the game began to, figuratively speaking, melt down. The game went from fewer than 1,000 people playing it at any given moment in time to suddenly having tens of thousands of concurrent players. Then it grew to hundreds of thousands of players, all trying to log in and play at once across PlayStation, Xbox and PC.

Keep Reading Show less
Nick Statt
Nick Statt is Protocol's video game reporter. Prior to joining Protocol, he was news editor at The Verge covering the gaming industry, mobile apps and antitrust out of San Francisco, in addition to managing coverage of Silicon Valley tech giants and startups. He now resides in Rochester, New York, home of the garbage plate and, completely coincidentally, the World Video Game Hall of Fame. He can be reached at

While it's easy to get lost in the operational and technical side of a transaction, it's important to remember the third component of a payment. That is, the human behind the screen.

Over the last two years, many retailers have seen the benefit of investing in new, flexible payments. Ones that reflect the changing lifestyles of younger spenders, who are increasingly holding onto their cash — despite reports to the contrary. This means it's more important than ever for merchants to take note of the latest payment innovations so they can tap into the savings of the COVID-19 generation.

Keep Reading Show less
Antoine Nougue,

Antoine Nougue is Head of Europe at He works with ambitious enterprise businesses to help them scale and grow their operations through payment processing services. He is responsible for leading the European sales, customer success, engineering & implementation teams and is based out of London, U.K.

Protocol | Policy

Why Twitch’s 'hate raid' lawsuit isn’t just about Twitch

When is it OK for tech companies to unmask their anonymous users? And when should a violation of terms of service get someone sued?

The case Twitch is bringing against two hate raiders is hardly black and white.

Photo: Caspar Camille Rubin/Unsplash

It isn't hard to figure out who the bad guys are in Twitch's latest lawsuit against two of its users. On one side are two anonymous "hate raiders" who have been allegedly bombarding the gaming platform with abhorrent attacks on Black and LGBTQ+ users, using armies of bots to do it. On the other side is Twitch, a company that, for all the lumps it's taken for ignoring harassment on its platform, is finally standing up to protect its users against persistent violators whom it's been unable to stop any other way.

But the case Twitch is bringing against these hate raiders is hardly black and white. For starters, the plaintiff here isn't an aggrieved user suing another user for defamation on the platform. The plaintiff is the platform itself. Complicating matters more is the fact that, according to a spokesperson, at least part of Twitch's goal in the case is to "shed light on the identity of the individuals behind these attacks," raising complicated questions about when tech companies should be able to use the courts to unmask their own anonymous users and, just as critically, when they should be able to actually sue them for violating their speech policies.

Keep Reading Show less
Issie Lapowsky

Issie Lapowsky ( @issielapowsky) is Protocol's chief correspondent, covering the intersection of technology, politics, and national affairs. She also oversees Protocol's fellowship program. Previously, she was a senior writer at Wired, where she covered the 2016 election and the Facebook beat in its aftermath. Prior to that, Issie worked as a staff writer for Inc. magazine, writing about small business and entrepreneurship. She has also worked as an on-air contributor for CBS News and taught a graduate-level course at New York University's Center for Publishing on how tech giants have affected publishing.

Protocol | Workplace

Remote work is here to stay. Here are the cybersecurity risks.

Phishing and ransomware are on the rise. Is your remote workforce prepared?

Before your company institutes work-from-home-forever plans, you need to ensure that your workforce is prepared to face the cybersecurity implications of long-term remote work.

Photo: Stefan Wermuth/Bloomberg via Getty Images

The delta variant continues to dash or delay return-to-work plans, but before your company institutes work-from-home-forever plans, you need to ensure that your workforce is prepared to face the cybersecurity implications of long-term remote work.

So far in 2021, CrowdStrike has already observed over 1,400 "big game hunting" ransomware incidents and $180 million in ransom demands averaging over $5 million each. That's due in part to the "expanded attack surface that work-from-home creates," according to CTO Michael Sentonas.

Keep Reading Show less
Michelle Ma
Michelle Ma (@himichellema) is a reporter at Protocol, where she writes about management, leadership and workplace issues in tech. Previously, she was a news editor of live journalism and special coverage for The Wall Street Journal. Prior to that, she worked as a staff writer at Wirecutter. She can be reached at
Protocol | Fintech

When COVID rocked the insurance market, this startup saw opportunity

Ethos has outraised and outmarketed the competition in selling life insurance directly online — but there's still an $887 billion industry to transform.

Life insurance has been slow to change.

Image: courtneyk/Getty Images

Peter Colis cited a striking statistic that he said led him to launch a life insurance startup: One in twenty children will lose a parent before they turn 15.

"No one ever thinks that will happen to them, but that's the statistics," the co-CEO and co-founder of Ethos told Protocol. "If it's a breadwinning parent, the majority of those families will go bankrupt immediately, within three months. Life insurance elegantly solves this problem."

Keep Reading Show less
Benjamin Pimentel

Benjamin Pimentel ( @benpimentel) covers fintech from San Francisco. He has reported on many of the biggest tech stories over the past 20 years for the San Francisco Chronicle, Dow Jones MarketWatch and Business Insider, from the dot-com crash, the rise of cloud computing, social networking and AI to the impact of the Great Recession and the COVID crisis on Silicon Valley and beyond. He can be reached at or via Signal at (510)731-8429.

Latest Stories