Intel fears workers would quit over a vaccine mandate

Intel's chief people officer told us why the chipmaker doesn't want to require the jab.

Intel logo

Instead of requiring vaccines, Intel is gearing up to require testing under a new emergency temporary standard from the Department of Labor's OSHA.

Image: Intel

Intel doesn't plan to require its employees to get vaccinated for COVID-19, fearing that it would lose employees to a mandate.

"We want to have the most positive employee relations that we can, and we want to have all of our employees safe," Intel's chief people officer, Christy Pambianchi, told Protocol. "We're trying to walk that fine line."

Retaining workers is top of mind for companies like Intel. One in seven U.S. workers — including 40% of tech workers — surveyed by in August said they were planning to quit their jobs this fall.

The risk of losing employees is Intel's "main reason" for not requiring the vaccine, Pambianchi said, though she noted the company hasn't surveyed employees about whether they would quit for this reason.

Still, Intel wants to be careful about "the tone and the way in which we want to interact with our employees," Pambianchi said. Instead of requiring the vaccine, Intel has been offering vaccinated workers $250 bonuses since August.

"Obviously, our goal would be to have as many people as possible get vaccinated," Pambianchi said.

Intel hasn't implemented COVID testing at scale and its sites remain open to masked and unvaccinated employees.

The chipmaker is a federal contractor, but said it isn't currently subject to the White House's Sept. 9 executive order requiring vaccine mandates for companies that work for the U.S. government.

That's because the executive order came out the month after Intel announced its new foundry services contract with the Department of Defense.

If that DoD contract is updated or renewed, or if Intel enters any future contracts with the federal government, at least some Intel employees will likely have to get vaccinated if they aren't already, the company acknowledged.

And as a large employer, Intel will need to comply with vaccine or testing requirements from the Department of Labor's Occupational Safety and Health Administration.

Under the not-yet-released OSHA rules, companies with 100 or more employees must require either vaccination or regular testing.

Pambianchi told Protocol that Intel has "put all the plans together" to require testing, assuming OSHA requires it, but for now, the company is waiting for the official OSHA announcement.

"There's some uncertainty on our part (about) what that will be," Pambianchi said, noting that, among other things, the company is wondering about what kinds of tests are acceptable and possible exemptions for COVID survivors who test positive for antigens.

Intel's return-to-work plan: 'Decentralized' hybrid

As more employees gear up to return to the office, Intel is embracing a hybrid approach for most workers, with exceptions for its lab and factory workers who can't work from home.

But instead of mandating a certain schedule or number of days per week in the office, Intel is leaving those decisions up to teams.

"We're going to take a pretty decentralized approach to this," said Pambianchi. "We're going to empower managers and employees to make the right decisions about when they need to be on site."

Ninety percent of Intel employees favored the hybrid model in a survey the company conducted in April, the company said.

A "small number" of employees will remain fully remote, according to Pambianchi.

And unlike a number of other large tech companies, Intel hasn't set a companywide return-to-office date, instead phasing in each site across the 50 countries where it operates.


Wall Street is warming up to crypto

Secure, well-regulated technology infrastructure could draw more large banks to crypto.

Technology infrastructure for crypto has begun to mature.

Illustration: Christopher T. Fong/Protocol

Despite a downturn in crypto markets, more large institutional investors are seeking to invest in crypto.

One factor holding them back is a lack of infrastructure for large institutions compared to what exists in the traditional, regulated capital markets.

Keep Reading Show less
Tomio Geron

Tomio Geron ( @tomiogeron) is a San Francisco-based reporter covering fintech. He was previously a reporter and editor at The Wall Street Journal, covering venture capital and startups. Before that, he worked as a staff writer at Forbes, covering social media and venture capital, and also edited the Midas List of top tech investors. He has also worked at newspapers covering crime, courts, health and other topics. He can be reached at or

Sponsored Content

Great products are built on strong patents

Experts say robust intellectual property protection is essential to ensure the long-term R&D required to innovate and maintain America's technology leadership.

Every great tech product that you rely on each day, from the smartphone in your pocket to your music streaming service and navigational system in the car, shares one important thing: part of its innovative design is protected by intellectual property (IP) laws.

From 5G to artificial intelligence, IP protection offers a powerful incentive for researchers to create ground-breaking products, and governmental leaders say its protection is an essential part of maintaining US technology leadership. To quote Secretary of Commerce Gina Raimondo: "intellectual property protection is vital for American innovation and entrepreneurship.”

Keep Reading Show less
James Daly
James Daly has a deep knowledge of creating brand voice identity, including understanding various audiences and targeting messaging accordingly. He enjoys commissioning, editing, writing, and business development, particularly in launching new ventures and building passionate audiences. Daly has led teams large and small to multiple awards and quantifiable success through a strategy built on teamwork, passion, fact-checking, intelligence, analytics, and audience growth while meeting budget goals and production deadlines in fast-paced environments. Daly is the Editorial Director of 2030 Media and a contributor at Wired.

How I decided to go all-in on a federal contract — before assignment

Amanda Renteria knew Code for America could help facilitate access to expanded child tax credits. She also knew there was no guarantee her proof of concept would convince others — but tried anyway.

Code for America CEO Amanda Renteria explained how it's helped people claim the Child Tax Credit.

Photo: Code for America

Click banner image for more How I decided series

After the American Rescue Plan Act passed in March 2021, the U.S. government expanded child tax credits to provide relief for American families during the pandemic. The legislation allowed some families to nearly double their tax benefits per child, which was especially critical for low-income families, who disproportionately bore the financial brunt of the pandemic.

Keep Reading Show less
Hirsh Chitkara

Hirsh Chitkara ( @HirshChitkara) is a reporter at Protocol focused on the intersection of politics, technology and society. Before joining Protocol, he helped write a daily newsletter at Insider that covered all things Big Tech. He's based in New York and can be reached at


This carbon capture startup wants to clean up the worst polluters

The founder and CEO of point-source carbon capture company Carbon Clean discusses what the startup has learned, the future of carbon capture technology, as well as the role of companies like his in battling the climate crisis.

Carbon Clean CEO Aniruddha Sharma told Protocol that fossil fuels are necessary, at least in the near term, to lift the living standards of those who don’t have access to cars and electricity.

Photo: Carbon Clean

Carbon capture and storage has taken on increasing importance as companies with stubborn emissions look for new ways to meet their net zero goals. For hard-to-abate industries like cement and steel production, it’s one of the few options that exist to help them get there.

Yet it’s proven incredibly challenging to scale the technology, which captures carbon pollution at the source. U.K.-based company Carbon Clean is leading the charge to bring down costs. This year, it raised a $150 million series C round, which the startup said is the largest-ever funding round for a point-source carbon capture company.

Keep Reading Show less
Michelle Ma

Michelle Ma (@himichellema) is a reporter at Protocol covering climate. 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


Why companies cut staff after raising millions

Are tech firms blowing millions in funding just weeks after getting it? Experts say it's more complicated than that.

Bolt, Trade Republic, HomeLight, and Stord all drew attention from funding announcements that happened just weeks or days before layoffs.

Photo: Pulp Photography/Getty Images

Fintech startup Bolt was one of the first tech companies to slash jobs, cutting 250 employees, or a third of its staff, in May. For some workers, the pain of layoffs was a shock not only because they were the first, but also because the cuts came just four months after Bolt had announced a $355 million series E funding round and achieved a peak valuation of $11 billion.

“Bolt employees were blind sided because the CEO was saying just weeks ago how everything is fine,” an anonymous user wrote on the message board Blind. “It has been an extremely rough day for 1/3 of Bolt employees,” another user posted. “Sadly, I was one of them who was let go after getting a pay-raise just a couple of weeks ago.”

Keep Reading Show less
Nat Rubio-Licht

Nat Rubio-Licht is a Los Angeles-based news writer at Protocol. They graduated from Syracuse University with a degree in newspaper and online journalism in May 2020. Prior to joining the team, they worked at the Los Angeles Business Journal as a technology and aerospace reporter.

Latest Stories