Cisco requires COVID-19 shots for all US staff – even remote workers

Unvaxxed can vaxx off for unpaid leave during which Switchzilla can fire them or erase their jobs

Exclusive Cisco has updated its COVID-19 vaccination policy for US staff to make the jabs mandatory – even for those who work remotely.

The new policy, a copy of which was obtained by The Register, requires "all US-based employees (including US Territories), regardless of whether you work remotely or in a Cisco facility, be fully vaccinated … or have an approved medical or religious accommodation, by December 8, 2021."

Staff were informed of the policy in an email sent late last week. They have until November 5 to apply for medical or religious accommodations.

Workers who don't qualify for those accommodations and don't get jabbed will be sent on a leave of absence with pay until January 8, 2022. Cisco will keep them on the books as unpaid workers after that date, though it reserves the right to hire someone new or eliminate jobs vacated by the unvaxxed.

We know that everyone will not always be aligned with our approach, but we remain committed to always putting health, safety, and respect at our core

The email argued that the policy is necessary as a result of President Biden issuing an executive order on "ensuring adequate COVID safety protocols for federal contractors."

That order requires suppliers to the US government, such as Cisco, to ensure staff are vaccinated against COVID-19.

A Cisco spokesperson verified that the email obtained by The Reg is real. "We abide by local laws in every country where we do business," the spokesperson explained. “As a US federal contractor and in compliance with the Biden executive order, we have updated our vaccine policy to require that all US-based employees be fully vaccinated or have an approved medical or religious accommodation by December 8, 2021."

Cisco's mail to its people urges them to get vaccinated – ASAP.

"For those who are not yet vaccinated, there is a limited window of opportunity for you to obtain full vaccination status (including the 14-day waiting period after the final shot) before December 8," reads the memo, which was sent from the desk of EVP and chief people, policy & purpose officer Francine Katsoudas.

"We know that everyone will not always be aligned with our approach, but we remain committed to always putting health, safety, and respect at our core," Katsoudas wrote.

"We have worked closely with our health experts and legal team to evaluate the complexities of this new executive order from every angle to fully understand the scope of the mandate and the impact it has on Cisco and our people," she added. "Our leadership team explored various options and incorporated employee listening to define our approach."

Those deliberations led Cisco to conclude that as a federal contractor it is "obligated to comply" with what Biden demands.

"Many of our customers and partners are also impacted by this mandate and expect Cisco to comply as a condition of working with them," the letter stated.

Cisco is not alone in reaching such a conclusion. IBM has already done likewise and so has Adobe – although both gave staff more time in which to arrange their vaccinations. Other vendors have different approaches: Nutanix requires workers who attend its premises to be jabbed, and lets the unvaccinated work remotely. Apple will require unvaccinated staff to be tested for COVID-19 every time they attend a company facility. ®

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