The parent company of Facebook, WhatsApp, and Instagram, Meta Platforms, will require all in-person employees in the US to have a booster vaccination.
Meta has announced that employees will have until late March to comply, although it is unclear what action will be taken if staff refuse the booster. Previous mandates saw staff in numerous industries let go because of the danger they presented to others.
This decision comes as Omicron cases rise in the US, and record numbers of people have been admitted to hospitals as a result. At the time of writing, 132,646 people in the US are currently on medical wards.
The latest wave of the COVID-19 pandemic means that Meta has had to push back its return to the office yet again. The company is now aiming for staff to return on March 28. Initially, Meta had hoped staff could return to the office by the end of January.
It is worth noting that coming back to the office is not mandatory like a booster jab. Instead, staff who wish to stay at home will be required to request a deferral from the company by mid-March. Employees will then be able to continue remote working for three to five months.
Why implement a booster mandate?
A spokesperson for Meta explained the reasoning behind the decision to Insider, and claimed that this move would give employees more time and flexibility to adjust their work arrangements.
In a statement, Janelle Gale, vice president of human resources for Meta, commented: “We’re focused on making sure our employees continue to have choices about where they work given the current COVID-19 landscape.
“We understand that the continued uncertainty makes this a difficult time to make decisions about where to work, so we’re giving more time to choose what works best for them.”
There is also the obvious health element that has influenced this decision, and a Meta spokesperson told The Wall Street Journal that: “Boosters provide increased protection, given the evidence of booster effectiveness, we are expanding our vaccination requirement to include boosters.”
However, Meta is one of the first large enterprises to enforce a booster mandate. Given previous mandates, it is unlikely that there will be too much outcry from staff. Nonetheless, making the first step always has an element of risk.