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WarnerMedia is the latest media and entertainment company to require that employees be vaccinated for when they return to the office in September.
“Generally speaking, vaccinations will be required in order to return to a WarnerMedia office/work location,” WarnerMedia CEO Jason Kilar wrote in a memo to staff Thursday. “There are caveats to this of course … but this is the expectation going forward for the vast majority of our team that will be working in a WarnerMedia office/location.”
Those caveats include religious or medical exemptions, according to a separate note from WarnerMedia’s HR chief Jim Cummings. Kilar added that there is “no expectation” that employees return on Sept. 6, when the offices will reopen.
“Clearly, this will need to reflect what’s possible based on local laws and regulations, as well as vaccine availability,” Cummings added. “Put differently, we’ll require it where we can, and when vaccines are widely available to all adults. Right now, this applies to all U.S.-based office locations and will be effective September 6. We’re reviewing legal and other issues for all locales outside the U.S. where we have major offices, so please know that we’ll follow up with all of you who aren’t in the U.S. when we have more details. And we’ll also be working with our labor partners to determine how we can address this issue for those employees who are represented by various unions. Again, more to come.”
The company will host vaccine clinics next week at its New York, Atlanta, and Los Angeles offices, and says that starting Sept. 6 every office will hav a nurse on-site who can administer tests for COVID-19. The company will also follow CDC guidelines and require masks where there is “significant” or “substantial” spread.
WarnerMedia follows a number of other companies in the sector to mandate vaccines. The Walt Disney Co. is requiring them for all non-union U.S. staff, while Netflix is requiring it for employees that will work out of its offices. CNN, which WarnerMedia owns, already required employees working out of its offices to be vaccinated, and fired three employees this month for lying about their vaccination status while coming into the office.
“Ultimately, the bigger question for us and, indeed, the entire world is when and how we start to live with COVID as an endemic reality.,”Cummings wrote. “Right now, we think the best way to address all of these considerations is to move forward as planned while doing everything we can to mitigate risk – and that, of course, first and foremost requires everyone in the office to be vaccinated. And it also includes the flexibility to work at home. So, we’ll continue to monitor the trends over the next couple weeks.”
Or as Kilar wrote in his memo: “Many thanks and please, if you have not already, get vaccinated.”
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