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Starbucks announced that its US workers must be fully vaccinated by February 9th, 2022. Or they will have to undergo weekly COVID-19 testing. This is to comply with the new federal mandate.

John Culver, the Starbucks Chief Operating Officer said, “The vaccine is the best option when it comes to slowing the spread of COVID-19.” He also told the 220,000 employees that they are acting in response to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration. This is after they issued a vaccine or test requirement for all companies with more than 100 employees in November 2021.

The announcement was first detailed in a December 27th, 2021 letter to employees. In the letter, the employees are also required to disclose their vaccination status by January 10th, 2021. He also reiterated the new rules in a weekly update last Monday.

He wrote, “As I watch the news of the Omicron variant which is now spreading faster, it’s concerning that it’s pushing daily COVID-19 cases counts higher. Since we all want the best for every Starbucks partner, my responsibility is to do whatever we can to keep you safe and create a safe work environment.”

The explosion of new COVID-19 cases sidelines employees across the country. This delayed the start of several schools and also led to the closure of some restaurants.

Starbucks Employees to Undergo Weekly COVID-19 Testing

OSHA has set February 9th, 2022 as the date employers must comply with full immunization or weekly testing. Under the new Starbucks policy, employees who opt out of immunization will have to buy OSHA-approved COVID-19 testing kits. After testing, they’re required to submit results weekly.

The Labor Department previously slated the policy to take effect by January 4th,2022. But OSHA suspended it pending a court hearing challenging the regulation. Starbucks said full immunizations means one shot of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine or two shots of either the Moderna or Pfizer vaccine.

If a Starbucks employee opts for weekly testing, they must pay the cost themselves and get tested at a clinic or approved testing site. However, the company will consider medical and religious reasons. But for employees working in a store, they must test weekly.

Unlike in the first half of 2020 where Starbucks had to close half of its US stores. This time around, they will not be temporarily shutting down any stores or converting them to carry out or drive-thru only.

Instead, any employee who tests positive will use paid time to self-isolate. The company said it’s giving employees paid isolation time of up to five days. Currently, the Omicron variant has airlines, and other businesses scaling back their operations. This is due to the rising infection and deaths among workers.