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IBM, Red Hat Issue New COVID-19 Vaccine Mandates

Big Blue will require employees in the U.S. to get fully vaccinated against COVID-19 by Dec. 8 while Red Hat requires proof of full vaccination by Nov. 29. An IBM spokeswoman tells CRN that the vaccine mandate also applies to any visitors to any offices, including partners “if they are at IBM sites.”

IBM and its Red Hat subsidiary have announced new COVID-19 vaccine mandates in light of requirements for U.S. federal contractors.

IBM will require employees in the U.S. to get fully vaccinated against COVID-19 by Dec. 8. If they don’t, employees face an unpaid leave of absence starting Dec. 9, an IBM spokeswoman told CRN in an email. This applies to IBM U.S. employees regardless of where they work and how often they come into an IBM office.

The Armonk, N.Y.-based tech giant has cited President Joe Biden’s vaccine mandate for federal contractors -- including IBM -- as the reason for the new policy, according to CNBC. The company will consider religious and medical exemptions for employees who can’t get the vaccine. IBM has about 350,000 employees worldwide.

[RELATED: Microsoft Scraps Return-To-Work Date Given ‘Uncertainty Of COVID-19’]

An IBM spokeswoman also told CRN that the vaccine mandate also applies to any visitors to any offices, including partners “if they are at IBM sites.”

Red Hat, meanwhile, published a blog post signed by CEO Paul Cormier on Thursday announcing that, as a federal contractor, “Red Hat must and will require all associates and contractors in the United States to be vaccinated,” with limited exceptions. Frequent testing or recovery from COVID-19 is not accepted instead of vaccination.

By Nov. 29, “associates and contractors must demonstrate proof of full vaccination as a requirement for continued employment,” according to the post. “This requirement extends to all U.S. associates and contractors no matter if they work from a Red Hat office, a customer or partner site, or are fully remote.”

“Red Hat supports the view that vaccination is the best way to contribute to ending the pandemic, and we are demonstrating our commitment to keeping our colleagues, customers, and communities safe,” according to the post.

Red Hat will set up a “privacy-sensitive process” for employees to submit vaccination proof and accommodation requests.

When asked for clarification on how the new policy might impact solution providers, a Red Hat spokesperson said: “We, and the entire federal IT vendor community (including our partners, VARs, etc.), are still working through all the details to assure compliance with the new guidance. This may need to be worked out on a case-by-case basis based on the relationship and specific project, as well as applicable requirements.”

Multiple tech giants have issued their own policies around employees and COVID-19 vaccines. In July, Google announced that vaccines are required for employees who want to work on its campuses — starting with those in the United States — with some allowable exceptions.

In August, Hewlett Packard Enterprise said that all team members, contractors, and visitors are required to be fully vaccinated as a condition of entering its sites and attending business events where legally permitted.

AT&T announced a COVID-19 vaccine mandate for management employees entering a work location that same month, while Intel announced bonuses worth up to $350 to vaccinated employees by the end of the year.

Also in August, Microsoft announced that proof of COVID-19 vaccination is required for employees, vendors and guests — with some exceptions — entering the tech giant’s U.S. buildings. In September, the Redmond, Wash.-based tech giant scrapped a definitive date for employees to return from remote working.

Notably, Apple has not announced a vaccine mandate for employees. This month, the company plans to test employees in its offices and stores for COVID-19, according to The Verge.

The COVID-19 pandemic has claimed the lives of 708,200 Americans in the past 19 months, according to data from Johns Hopkins University.

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