CNN terminated three staffers who came to its offices without being vaccinated and indicated to employees it will push back a scheduled full return to the office by several weeks.
In a memo to staffers, Jeff Zucker, chairman of WarnerMedia’s news and sports operations, said new conditions related to the coronavirus pandemic had made executives more cautious about having all staffers return to the office by September 7, an earlier goal. Now, executives hope employees will be able to return by mid-October.
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“The bottom line is that, based on the information that is available today, and what experts expect to evolve with the virus in the weeks ahead, September 7 no longer feels appropriate,” Zucker said in the memo. ‘We always said that we would be flexible with our decisions on all of this.” He added: “As new information is made available, we are constantly evaluating our decisions.”
CNN’s decision follows those of large companies like ViacomCBS, Google, and Amazon, all of which have also postponed scheduled employee returns to a corporate setting.
Zucker reminded employees that being vaccinated is mandatory in order to come into the office at present. And he said when the company learned of staffers who had come into the office without meeting that condition, it fired them. “In the past week, we have been made aware of three employees who were coming into the office unvaccinated. All three have been terminated. Let me be clear — we have a zero-tolerance policy on this. You need to be vaccinated to come to the office. And you need to be vaccinated to work in the field, with other employees, regardless of whether you enter an office or not. Period.”
The executive noted that employees were feeling unsettled as the pandemic took a new turn. “I think it is fair to say that we are all feeling a mix of anticipation, anxiety, frustration, confusion, and exasperation. All of that is to be expected. We all have decisions to make that impact so many aspects of our lives. I get it. If nothing else, the resilience and perseverance you all have shown for 18 months now needs to continue a little bit longer. But we will get there,” he said. “Continue to take care of yourselves and each other. And I will share more updates just as soon as we have them.”
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