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WarnerMedia will require salaried and non-union U.S. employees to get vaccinated before returning to work, joining many companies, including Disney, Facebook and Google, in recently enacting vaccination policies for their workforces.

“As we start to officially reopen our offices in September, we’re going to require proof of vaccination to enter a WarnerMedia office building. Clearly, this will need to reflect what’s possible based on local laws and regulations, as well as vaccine availability. Put differently, we’ll require it where we can, and when vaccines are widely available to all adults,” reads a WarnerMedia human resources executive memo sent this week.

WarnerMedia, currently engaged in a mega-merger with Discovery, encompasses Warner Bros. Entertainment, HBO and Turner Networks, among other content brands.

“Right now, this applies to all U.S.-based office locations and will be effective September 6. We’re reviewing legal and other issues for all locales outside the U.S. where we have major offices, so please know that we’ll follow up with all of you who aren’t in the U.S. when we have more details. And we’ll also be working with our labor partners to determine how we can address this issue for those employees who are represented by various unions,” the memo continued.

Warner Bros.’ policy follows the Walt Disney Company’s vaccination requirement for all salaried and non-union U.S. employees. Prior to that, Netflix announced that all actors and staff that come in close proximity to them, designated as Zone A crew members, must be vaccinated on all U.S. productions.

In the live-entertainment world, all Broadway theaters will require audience members, performers, crew members and backstage staff to be vaccinated once venues reopen this fall. On Tuesday, New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio said proof of vaccine will be required for people to enter indoor restaurants, gyms and performances. The policy, the first of its kind in the U.S., will launch on Aug. 16 and be enforced starting Sept. 13.

Last month, the Hollywood unions and major studios agreed on new COVID protocols that gave producers “the option to implement mandatory vaccination policies for casts and crew in Zone A on a production-by-production basis.” However, other workers in Zones B, C and D cannot be forced to get vaccinated.

Read a full memo from WarnerMedia Chief Human Resources Officer Jim Cummings:

Hi everyone –

As John mentioned in his note today, we continue to watch the pandemic evolve around us. It’s a familiar phenomenon at this point, but nonetheless troubling. We know there are questions about what all of this means for WarnerMedia, so we wanted to send a brief update on our plans. A few things:

First, as we start to officially reopen our offices in September, we’re going to require proof of vaccination to enter a WarnerMedia office building. Clearly, this will need to reflect what’s possible based on local laws and regulations, as well as vaccine availability. Put differently, we’ll require it where we can, and when vaccines are widely available to all adults. Right now, this applies to all U.S.-based office locations and will be effective September 6. We’re reviewing legal and other issues for all locales outside the U.S. where we have major offices, so please know that we’ll follow up with all of you who aren’t in the U.S. when we have more details. And we’ll also be working with our labor partners to determine how we can address this issue for those employees who are represented by various unions. Again, more to come.

We know there will be many questions about what this means, especially for anyone who needs to be in the office but cannot be vaccinated (e.g., for medical reasons). A few details that we know right now:

· If you have a medical or religious reason that you can’t be vaccinated, talk to your HR partner and/or visit WarnerMedia One here for more information.
· As of September 6, all employees who come into our U.S. buildings will need to attest (in Passcard) to the fact that they’ve been fully vaccinated and will need to load a picture of their vaccination card (as proof).
· The week of August 16, we’ll have vaccine clinics onsite in New York (Hudson Yards), Los Angeles (the Warner Bros. lot) and Atlanta (Techwood) for those who still need to be vaccinated.
· Also starting in September, all our main offices in the U.S. will be staffed with nurses who can administer COVID tests on site. Those working in other offices in the U.S. can access at-home test kits. You can get information on testing services here.
· Finally, in addition to being fully vaccinated, as John mentioned, we’re aligning (in the US) with CDC guidance about wearing masks in areas where there’s “significant” or “substantial” spread of the virus (regardless of whether a locality currently requires it).

Second, as of right now, we’re still moving ahead as currently planned with our more official U.S. office openings the week of September 6 (if you have questions about the plan for your location or team/group, please talk to your manager or HR partner). Understandably, there have been a number of questions about whether we would, or should, postpone this. But, if we did, it would raise a host of other questions, including what would trigger when we should go back – and, after that, when we should “shut” the office again if there’s another surge. Ultimately, the bigger question for us and, indeed, the entire world is when and how we start to live with COVID as an endemic reality. Right now, we think the best way to address all of these considerations is to move forward as planned while doing everything we can to mitigate risk – and that, of course, first and foremost requires everyone in the office to be vaccinated. And it also includes the flexibility to work at home. So, we’ll continue to monitor the trends over the next couple weeks.

I realize that this note doesn’t cover all the information you may want or need, or questions that you may have. Please know that we’re working through the details and will share more as we navigate our way through this very new territory. In the meantime, let us know if you have any questions. We’ll get through this together.

Best,
Jim