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Amazon Delays A Return To In-Office Work Until Jan. 3

The company is ‘strongly’ encouraging employees and contractors to get COVID-19 vaccinations.

Amazon has delayed the date of when it expects its corporate employees to return to in-office work as COVID-19 cases tied to the more contagious delta variant continue to rise.

The Seattle-based company, which previously expected those employees in the United States and other countries to resume coming into work regularly the week of Sept. 7, confirmed that it’s extended that date to Jan. 3, 2022.

The company is requiring employees -- with the exception of those who can verify they’re fully vaccinated – to wear masks in its offices, but stopped short of requiring vaccinations like rivals Microsoft and Google.

“We strongly encourage our employees and contractors to get vaccinated as soon as vaccines are available to them,” a company spokesperson said.

Microsoft this week said it was eying a full opening of its U.S. offices no earlier than Oct. 4 and will require proof of COVID-19 vaccination for employees, vendors and guests -- with some exceptions -- who enter its U.S. buildings starting in September. Employees with medical conditions or religious and other protected reasons for not getting vaccinated can receive accommodations from the company, it said. Google, meanwhile, in July announced it would start requiring vaccines for employees who want to work on its campuses -- beginning with those in the United States -- with certain allowable exceptions. It also extended its voluntary work-from-home policy through Oct. 18.

Amazon today said it’s continuing to closely monitor the pandemic and follow guidance from local governments and medical professionals to help ensure its workspaces are optimized for employee safety.

The company has adopted a hybrid return-to-work approach that allows Amazonians to work both in the office and at home. In June, it said employees would be required to work in the office at least three days per week, with the specific days determined by their team leaders. Those who want to work in the office less than three days per week and who are still able to commute to their assigned offices, can apply for exceptions, in which case they would be considered primarily remote workers. Those employees would be given an “agile” in-office workspace instead of a dedicated one so they could continue to collaborate with their teams.

Corporate employees for whom working away from the office is an “effective option” will get the choice of working fully remotely from a domestic location for up to four weeks per year , without being expected to commute to an office during that time.

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