Microsoft doesn't 'anticipate mandating the vaccine at this time' for employees returning to offices, exec says in leaked audio

  • Microsoft at this time doesn't plan to mandate vaccines for employees returning to the office.
  • An exec said at an all-hands meeting the company encourages vaccination, but won't require it.
  • Insider obtained a recording of the meeting. Microsoft did not respond to a request for more information.
  • Visit Insider's homepage for more stories.

Microsoft's Kurt DelBene, the executive leading its internal pandemic response, told employees during a companywide all-hands meeting on Thursday Microsoft doesn't have any plans as of right now to mandate vaccines for employees returning to the office, according to a recording reviewed by Insider.

"We believe the vaccine is safe and it's effective, and the first thing we are going to do is just encourage everyone to take the vaccine, because it is the way we are going to get through this," DelBene, executive vice president of corporate strategy, core services engineering and operations, said. "Having said that, we do not anticipate mandating the vaccine at this time."

Whether Microsoft will require vaccinations is among the top questions DelBene says he receives from employees. The exception would be if local government requires vaccine mandates, DelBene said. Microsoft did not respond to a request for more information as of the time of publication.

Amazon has lobbied for its warehouse workers to get the vaccine as early as possible while Facebook reportedly told employees they will not be required to get a vaccine before returning to offices. A recent survey of current and former CEOs from some large companies found a majority were open to the idea of a vaccine mandate.

Microsoft has previously said it doesn't plan to return most employees to offices until July, and has introduced a new flexible work policy allowing some employees to work remotely up to half of the time.

Microsoft believes essential workers, those required to work on-site even before offices opens, will be prioritized by governments in vaccine distributions. "We believe essential workers will be prioritized in every location where they are and that means they will get a priority delivery of the vaccine," DelBene said. "We will try to help in that delivery wherever we can."

Microsoft is building a central resource where employees can go to get information about local vaccine distributions, DelBene said. Meanwhile, Microsoft is working with Washington state government to use its headquarters for vaccine administration. Microsoft President Brad Smith in announcing the plan said it would be a site for people in the community, not just Microsoft employees.

Microsoft also joined Oracle, Salesforce, and others to create digital vaccination passports so people can provide proof that they've been inoculated against the virus. 

Are you a Microsoft employee or do you have insight to share? Contact reporter Ashley Stewart via encrypted messaging app Signal (+1-425-344-8242) or email ([email protected]).

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