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Royal Dutch Shell is weighing whether to mandate vaccines for employees and fire those who refuse to comply, according to an internal memo sent to the oil supermajor’s executive committee.
The document, dated September 1, outlined a case for “selective vaccine mandates” initially at offshore and other remote locations where staff live and work and where other criteria were met, including the availability of World Health Organization-approved vaccines.
Employees in other parts of the business could be subject to mandatory vaccination “over time”, the memo said.
“For staff who refuse to comply with a vaccine mandate we would make all reasonable efforts to avoid terminating their employment but will be faced with no alternative but to do so,” the document said.
Some of the world’s largest employers are wrestling with corporate vaccine policy in the face of surging cases of the Delta coronavirus variant, uneven access to vaccines around the world and resistance to jabs in some countries.
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Last month, US oil producers Hess and Chevron said they would require some of their employees, including those working offshore in the Gulf of Mexico, to be vaccinated against the coronavirus.
The investment bank Goldman Sachs will require proof of vaccination starting next month, while Deloitte, the professional services firm, has said all staff must be vaccinated before entering US facilities from October 11.
Shell declined to comment. Its memo, seen by the Financial Times, was careful to avoid coming down firmly on a broader Covid-19 vaccination mandate, outlining arguments for and against a new policy before recommending mandatory shots only in those specific circumstances.
Shell should not be a “pioneer” and should move “in step with governments and society on this controversial issue”, the memo said. Members of the executive committee discussed the issue of mandating vaccines on Friday, a person familiar with the matter said.
According to the memo, the company’s trading and supply division has already asked for vaccination to be mandatory for staff “because social distancing is impossible to achieve on a trading floor”, while there had also been calls for vaccine mandates “in terminals, depots and manufacturing sites”.
Although the number of objections to a mandate was “likely to be small”, those resistant to vaccination would be “noisy”, the memo said, adding that the number of objectors in the US Gulf could be higher because of the lower vaccination rates in the region.
A Carnegie Mellon University study published earlier this year found high vaccine hesitancy among oil and gas workers.
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