Starbucks unveils its new employee vaccine policy

By Jordan Valinsky, CNN Business

    (CNN) -- To comply with the Biden administration's upcoming vaccine mandate, Starbucks is requiring its workers to be fully vaccinated against Covid-19 or undergo weekly testing, the company recently told employees.

In a letter from Starbucks Chief Operating Officer John Culver, the coffee chain told its approximately 220,000 US employees they must disclose their vaccination status by January 10.

Although Starbucks strongly recommended employees get vaccinated, workers can choose not to get vaccinated and instead get tested weekly. They will be responsible for acquiring their own federally approved tests and submitting results.

"This is an important step we can take to help more partners get vaccinated, limit the spread of Covid-19, and create choices that partners can own based on what's best for them," Culver wrote. "If vaccination rates rise and community spread slows, we will adapt accordingly. But if things get worse, we may have to consider additional measures. For now, my hope is that we will all do our part to protect one another."

Starbucks sent the note to employees on December 27 and repeated the mandate details in a weekly update sent on Monday.

The changes come as the Occupational Safety and Health Administration recently set a new date of February 9 for large employers to require either full vaccinations or weekly testing as the Omicron variant spreads quickly throughout the United States.

Starbucks previously said it was "strongly encouraging" employees to get the vaccine and offered two hours of paid time off for each dose including the booster. It joins a number of employers requiring workers to show proof of a Covid-19 vaccine in order to comply with local laws in some places.

-- Reuters contributed to this report.

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