RESEARCH TRIANGLE PARK – IBM, one of the largest private sector employers in the Triangle, is mandating that workers be vaccinated by Dec. 9 or be “out on an unpaid leave of absence.”

A spokesperson for IBM cited the wide availability of vaccines as a reason in a statement provided to WRAL TechWire on Thursday.

The news toughens an earlier announced plan from IBM that workers be vaccinated before being allowed to return to offices.

Earlier Thursday, Red Hat – which is part of IBM – announced to its workers that vaccinations would be required or employees and contractors would lose their jobs.

Red Hat CEO: Employees must be vaccinated or lose their jobs

“As we’ve said throughout the pandemic, IBM’s health and safety practices are driven by science. Given the continued spread of COVID-19, the local clinical conditions around IBM sites, and the reality that vaccines are readily available nationwide, we will now require all IBM U.S. employees to be fully vaccinated by December 8,” Carrie Bendzsa, U.S. Markets and Regional Communications Manager for IBM Americas, told TechWire.

“This applies to IBM U.S. employees regardless of where they work and how often they come into an IBM office. If an employee is not vaccinated by the deadline, they will be put on an unpaid leave of absence as of December 9, 2021.”

CNBC reported that IBM sent a memo to employees that cited federal requirements as a reason for the vaccination mandate.

“As a federal contractor, it is a business imperative for IBM to comply with this mandate,” the company said as reported by CNBC.  “In light of this requirement, the policies of many of our clients and partners, and the easy access to vaccines around the country, we will now require all IBM U.S. employees to be fully vaccinated by December 8, 2021, in order to work at IBM.”

IBM and Red Hat thus join Cary-based SAS among the companies requiring vaccinations for continued employment.

IBM has some 8,000 employees at its campus in the Triangle, according to the Book of Lists from the Triangle Business Journal, and others spread across the state. Worldwide, IBM employes more than 340,000 people.

IBM requires employees be vaccinated before returning to offices, report says