Apple Inc. will begin forcing unaffiliated corporate employees to be tested for Covid-19 every time they want to enter an office, a move that tightens its virus protocols while bridging the lack of a vaccine mandate .
The new requirement will also apply to employees who refuse to report their vaccination status to Apple, the company told employees this week. Vaccinated employees will need to be rapidly tested once a week.
Meanwhile, Apple will have slightly different rules for retail store employees. Non-vaccinated employees will be asked to test twice per week instead of every day they come to work. Vaccination staff will also have to pass a rapid test every week.
The company hasn’t been as aggressive as some of its tech peers in motivating employees to get vaccinated, but the upcoming deadline could change that.
The Biden administration has set a Dec. 8 target for federal contractors to require employees to be fully immunized against Covid-19. Apple sells products to the government through a dedicated sales channel. The US is also pushing businesses with 100 or more employees to test vaccinated or unvaccinated employees at least once per week. The White House is set to issue additional guidelines in the near future.
An Apple spokesperson declined to comment.
Apple is asking employees to report vaccination status by October 24, which is a delay from the earlier deadline of mid-September. Employees will also have to show proof of their status in the coming days. The iPhone maker this week outlined the policies in an email to corporate and retail employees. The new requirements will take effect November 1, Apple told employees.
Employees will be able to take the rapid test at home from Apple’s offices and retail stores. The test takes 15 minutes, and employees will self-report their results via an internal app.
At the same time, Apple is getting closer to requiring most of its corporate employees to return to the office. After several delays, the company’s latest guidance is that employees must work in the office at least three days a week starting in January. Apple, based in Cupertino, California, has told its employees that it will give a month’s warning on any such deadline.
In September, Apple told employees it would eventually mandate frequent covid testing for unvaccinated employees, but it did not specify details or when the initiative would begin. Apple is pushing employees to get immunizations first and is accelerating its then-optional testing program.