SAS Institute, the largest employer in Cary and an influential technology company in the Triangle, said Wednesday that it will now require its workers to be vaccinated or potentially face termination.
SAS, which employs some 5,500 people in Cary, already had begun instituting a vaccine mandate for employees who wanted to return to its sprawling campus in Cary, but it also told non-vaccinated employees they could work remotely. The vaccine requirement now applies to employees, no matter where they work, as well as potential employees.
The decision to expand the vaccine mandate to all SAS employees comes after the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine received FDA approval and President Joe Biden moved to make vaccine mandates apply to more privately-owned businesses.
Biden said last week that he would ask the U.S. Department of Labor to draft a new vaccine requirement that would order companies with more than 100 workers to have their employees vaccinated or face weekly COVID-19 testing. The order was expected to apply to around 80 million workers in the U.S.
“SAS was already limiting access to our U.S. SAS offices, including our Cary headquarters, to vaccinated employees only, with proof of vaccination required,” Trent Smith, a spokesperson for SAS, said in an email.
“With the FDA approval of the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine and the federal government’s recent Executive Orders,” he added, “SAS is now mandating that all U.S. SAS employees must be vaccinated against COVID-19 regardless of their work arrangement (fully remote, hybrid, on-campus).”
SAS employees must be fully vaccinated by Nov. 1, according to the new policy, however some employees can still seek an exemption for medical or religious reasons.
SAS has also started telling potential hires that they must be vaccinated to work at SAS. A section of the company’s job postings now reads: “In order to work at SAS, you must be fully vaccinated against COVID-19. If there is a medical or religious reason preventing you from receiving an available COVID-19 vaccination, and you are selected as a candidate for consideration, we have an accommodations process in place to evaluate those requests.”
Several of the Triangle’s largest employers have moved to make vaccine mandates for their employees in recent weeks, though few have threatened termination for not following.
Others that have taken a harder line include the Triangle’s main health care providers, like Duke Health, WakeMed and UNC Health, The N&O previously reported.
Merck, which has a large presence in Durham County and is helping produce Johnson & Johnson vaccines, told The N&O earlier this month that all of its employees need to be vaccinated by Nov. 1, unless they declare medical or religious exemptions.
This story was produced with financial support from a coalition of partners led by Innovate Raleigh as part of an independent journalism fellowship program. The N&O maintains full editorial control of the work. Learn more; go to bit.ly/newsinnovate.