The Ford Motor Company announced on Wednesday that it will soon be requiring all 32,000 of its salaried American employees to receive a coronavirus vaccine, CNN reports.
The new mandate gives workers a deadline of December 8th to be fully vaccinated, or otherwise be approved for a medical or religious exemption. Those who fail to comply with the new deadline will be put on paid leave for 30 days, after which point their job protection will expire.
“The goal is to achieve highest possible vaccination rate without severe consequences to any employee,” said a spokesperson for Ford. “The health and safety of our workforce remains our top priority and we have been very encouraged by the support of our employees to comply with our protocols, including the more than 84 percent of US salaried employees who are already vaccinated.”
“As we continue to put measures in place to protect our team,” the spokesperson continued, “Ford will now require most US salaried employees to be fully vaccinated against COVID-19 by Dec. 8, which also aligns to federal contractor guidelines.”
Ford initially did not implement a vaccine mandate for its over 88,000-strong American workforce, instead simply encouraging employees to get the vaccine. But with this new declaration, it becomes the first of the three U.S.-based auto-manufacturers to do so. The announcement comes after Ford, along with General Motors and Stellantis, had already required vaccinations for its employees based out of Canada.
The remaining 56,000 or so employees will not be required to get the vaccine due to union protections.
“OSHA-ETS guidelines have yet to be released,” the spokesman said, “and is subject to bargaining with the [United Auto Workers]. How the OSHA requirements will apply is currently being reviewed and discussed with union leadership.”
Brian Rothenberg, a spokesman for the UAW, said that the union’s position “continues to be that we encourage all members to get vaccinated but understand there are reasons such as health and religion that some members cannot.”
Ford’s decision comes after the Biden Administration announced plans to implement a sweeping new regulation on the entire American economy, ordering the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) to review procedures for ordering all private employers with 100 employees or more to mandate vaccines for their workforce, or else face fines and other penalties from the government. All federal workers are required to get vaccinated by November 22nd, while federal contractors must do so by December 8th.