Intel tells unvaccinated employees they face unpaid leave

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FILE – Pfizer COVID-19 vaccines sit ready for use at a Dallas County Health and Human Services drive up vaccine site in Mesquite, Texas, Nov. 30, 2021. While all eyes are on the new and little-understood omicron variant, the delta form of the coronavirus isn’t finished wreaking havoc in the U.S. There is much that is unknown about omicron, including whether it is more contagious than previous versions, makes people sicker or more easily thwarts the vaccine or breaks through the immunity that people get from a bout of COVID-19. (AP Photo/LM Otero, File)

PORTLAND, Ore. (AP) — Intel has told workers that unvaccinated people who don’t get an exemption for religious or medical reasons will be on unpaid leave beginning in April.

The California-based semiconductor company told employees last month they had a Jan. 4 deadline to be vaccinated against COVID-19 or seek an exemption, citing a government mandate for federal contractors.

The constitutionality of broad government mandates is up in the air. A federal court in Georgia blocked the contractor mandate earlier this month, but the government is appealing.

Intel is for now leaving its policies in place, the Oregonian/OregonLive reported.

“We are closely monitoring the legal environment and expect it will take time for the case in Georgia, as well as other similar cases, to be fully resolved,” Intel said in a statement.

In a Dec. 7 memo to employees, Chief People Officer Christy Pambianchi told employees the Jan. 4 vaccine deadline remains in place.

She wrote that employees who aren’t vaccinated must seek a medical or religious accommodation and submit to weekly testing, regardless of whether they are still working remotely.

Intel will review employees’ exemption requests until March 15. Pambianchi said employees who don’t receive an exemption will begin unpaid leave on April 4 for at least three months but “will not be terminated.”

She said Intel will continue providing health care benefits to unvaccinated employees on leave.

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