Citi joins Google, Mayo Clinic in sacking unvaccinated staff

By Kate Birch
Citigroup, Google and Mayo Clinic among organisations to fire COVID-19 unvaccinated employees, as Joe Biden’s mandate for weekly testing comes into effect

Citigroup has told employees in an internal memo that it will terminate unvaccinated workers by the end of January, making it the second-largest corporation and first Wall Street Bank to bring in such a strict policy. 

This follows similarly strict vaccination policies announced in late 2021 by tech giant Google and nonprofit Mayo Clinic, following a mandate announced last year by President Joe Biden prescribing that firms with 100 employees or more would have to ensure all staff were vaccinated or test negative on a weekly basis from today (Monday 10 January 2022). That mandate is being challenged in the courts by a group of Republican governors and business groups, but currently remains in place. 

Following that mandate, many large companies are now introducing weekly testing for unvaccinated staff, including Starbucks which last week told its 220,000 US employees that they must disclose their vaccination status by 10 January, and if unvaccinated they will need to submit weekly tests. 

“This is an important step we can take to help more partners get vaccinated, limit the spread of COVID-19, and create choices that partners can own based on what’s best for them,” Starbuck’s COO John Culver said in a statement.

JPMorgan, Goldman Sachs and Morgan Stanley deliver stiffer COVID policies

Rather than setting up weekly tests, other firms, from Citi and Google to JPMorgan and Goldman Sachs, have instead decided to bring in stiffer policies.

JPMorgan has banned travel and in-person meetings for its employees who are unvaccinated, while unvaccinated staff must be tested for COVID-19 twice a week, and will receive bigger payroll deductions to cover the cost of testing. They also require that new hires in key positions, client-facing roles for example, must be vaccinated before joining. 

Goldman Sachs and Morgan Stanley have gone even further, requiring all US staff who enter their offices to be vaccinated, which means unvaccinated employees can still work for them, but must do so remotely. 

Citigroup, Google, Mayo Clinic to fire unvaccinated staff

But Citi is the first Wall Street bank to announce that if you don’t have a jab, you don’t have a job. Citigroup’s policy states that those who have not been vaccinated against COVID-19 by 14 January 2022, will be placed on unpaid leave and then fired at the end of January unless they either get vaccinated or can provide a medical or religious exemption. 

The bank had previously warned staff in October 2021 that they would need to be fully vaccinated as a condition of their future employment. More than 90% of employees at Citi, around 65,000 staff in the US, are already vaccinated. 

This follows on from Google’s announcement, via internal memo in December 2021, according to CNBC, where its 150,000 US employees were told that they must comply with vaccine policies or face losing pay and ultimately losing their job. Employees must declare their vaccination status or provide proof of exemption by 18 January or will be placed on “paid administrative leave” for 30 days, after which the company will put them on unpaid personal leave for up to six months, followed by termination. 

Justifying the policy in a statement, a Google spokesperson said that the company’s “vaccination requirements are one of the most important ways we can keep our workforce safe and keep our services running”. 

Some companies have already taken to terminating employment of those who are unvaccinated. 

The Mayo Clinic, which introduced its mandatory COVID-19 vaccination last year, has now been forced to fire some 700 employees who have failed to comply with the nonprofit medical centre’s mandatory policy. 

According to the clinic, almost 99% of its employees (some 73,000 workers) across all US Mayo Clinic locations have been vaccinated, but the 1% who have not (73,000), and have subsequently not provided proof of a medical or religious exemption, have now been let go. Should they choose to get vaccinated at a later date, “the opportunity exists for them to apply and return to Mayo Clinic for future job openings”, the nonprofit said in a statement. 

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