Apple Inc. will begin to force unvaccinated corporate employees to test for Covid-19 each time they want to enter an office, a move that tightens its virus protocols while still stopping short of a vaccine mandate.
The new requirement will also apply to employees who decline to report their vaccination status to Apple, the company told employees this week. Vaccinated staff will be required to take rapid tests once per week.
Apple retail store employees, meanwhile, will have slightly different rules. Unvaccinated staff will be asked to test twice per week instead of each day they come to work. Vaccinated workers will also need to take a rapid test each week.
The company hasn’t been as aggressive as some of its technology peers in pushing workers to get immunized, but upcoming deadlines could change the situation.
The Biden administration has set a Dec. 8 target for federal contractors to require employees to be fully vaccinated against Covid-19. Apple sells products to the government via a dedicated sales channel. The U.S. also has been pushing businesses with 100 or more employees to require vaccines or test unvaccinated staff at least once per week. The White House is set to issue additional guidelines in the near future.
An Apple spokesman declined to comment.
Apple is asking employees to report their vaccination status by Oct. 24, a delay from an earlier mid-September deadline. Employees will also have to show proof of their status in the coming days. The iPhone maker outlined the policies in emails to corporate and retail staff this week. The new requirements go into effect on Nov. 1, Apple told staff.
Employees will be able to pick up at-home rapid tests from Apple offices and retail stores. The tests take 15 minutes, and employees will self-report their results through an internal app.
At the same time, Apple is inching closer toward requiring most of its corporate employees to return to the office. After multiple delays, the company’s latest guidance is that staff should work in the office at least three days per week beginning in January. Apple, based in Cupertino, California, has told its workforce that it will provide a one-month warning on any such deadline.
In September, Apple told staff that it would eventually mandate frequent Covid testing for unvaccinated employees, but it didn’t specify the details or when that initiative would begin. Apple has been pushing staff to receive vaccinations and previously ramped up its then-optional testing program.