It was only a matter of time before another Big 4 firm would follow Deloitte’s lead in requiring COVID-19 vaccines for employees to enter its facilities. But I gotta admit, I wasn’t expecting that firm to be KPMG. (PwC, to be honest.)
Here’s what was posted Tuesday morning on Fishbowl:
I texted a source at KPMG this morning who confirmed what was posted on Fishbowl and added:
The requirements are for offices and client sites unless client sites have stricter requirements. No one is forced to go into an office or client site yet.
This afternoon, we got a copy of the email message KPMGers received yesterday from US Chairman Paul Knopp and Deputy Chair Laura Newinski about the new COVID vax policy. Here is the text of that email:
We want to start by expressing our support for our friends, families and colleagues in Louisiana and Mississippi who are navigating a great deal of uncertainty in the wake of Hurricane Ida. We are continuing to monitor the evolving situation and stand ready to support our people and our communities as needs arise and access is possible.
We also want to thank you for everything you are doing to live our Values, deliver excellent work to clients and take care of each other. You are simply exceptional, and we are so proud to be the chair and deputy chair of this great firm. While you have stepped forward at every turn, we know how difficult it has been to juggle the responsibilities of home and work and manage stress so many of us are feeling as a result of the pandemic. As we face new concerns about Delta and other variants, we are even more keenly aware of the physical and emotional toll of COVID-19.
We are encouraged by the FDA’s full approval of the Pfizer vaccine and believe it represents a turning point for our country and firm. Based on our most recent survey, we believe approximately 86% of our employees and 94% of our partners are fully vaccinated against COVID-19. We strongly recommend that all members of our KPMG community get vaccinated and we hope many more of you will do so in the coming days and weeks. Science tells us that vaccines are the best protection against COVID-19 and the best way to eliminate the virus in our communities.
However, as a diverse and inclusive firm, we also recognize our colleagues who have deeply personal reasons for not getting vaccinated. We respect our colleagues and we are committed to creating an inclusive environment while maintaining safety measures for everyone’s protection.
As a result, we will require proof of vaccination or a negative COVID-19 PCR test administered within 72 hours prior to entry to a KPMG US office, effective October 4. You will soon receive additional information on how to submit this documentation. We will continue to follow Centers for Disease and Prevention (CDC) guidance, local and state laws and regulations related to social distancing, masks and other safety protocols, and we will follow client protocols for vaccination and testing when we are in their facilities. Increasingly, our clients are adopting protocols that include proof of vaccination for access to their offices. As a reminder, we encourage you to work where you are comfortable and you should not feel compelled to work at a client site if you are not comfortable doing so. As always, we will continue to assess the facts. If circumstances or medical recommendations change, we will remain flexible and evolve our policies as necessary.
We made this decision based on the recommendation of the firm’s Pandemic Response Committee (PRC) and in consultation with our medical advisors at the Mayo Clinic who have indicated that this combination of vaccinating, masking, testing and social distancing will provide a safer work environment.
We would like to thank the members of the PRC who have spent countless hours assessing facts, debating the right course of action and making prudent recommendations to leadership. We also want to thank those of you who reached out to share your perspective and lived experience. While this decision was complex, our guiding principles were simple. As we have done throughout the pandemic, we asked: Does this action support our Values, culture and commitment to protect our people? Does a change in policy protect the health and wellbeing of our people and provide us with adequate flexibility to adapt and adjust as the external environment evolves?
We believe the changes we are announcing today will enable more of us to return to offices and ensure an inclusive environment for all our people. Thank you for everything you continue to do for our clients, our teams and each other as we move forward.
So the biggest difference between Deloitte’s and KPMG’s vaccine requirements, besides the dates they go into effect (Deloitte’s is Oct. 1), is proof of the negative COVID test that will allow unvaxxed KPMGers to enter firm facilities. It’ll be interesting to see if PwC and EY follow that route if/when they announce their new vax rules for employees.
Meanwhile, in America’s Hat:
At least three of the Big Four accounting firms in Canada are requiring employees to be fully vaccinated against COVID-19 to return to the office as they prepare to reintroduce in-person meetings with clients.
Ernst & Young LLP, KPMG LLP and PricewaterhouseCoopers LLP told The Globe and Mail that they will implement vaccine mandates in their Canadian offices. Deloitte LLP did not respond to The Globe’s questions.
The trio joins Canada’s five largest banks, several law firms and many other private companies that have recently enacted vaccination policies. All three accounting firms said they will allow exemptions for employees who cannot be vaccinated, for religious, medical or other reasons.
The Globe and Mail reported that PwC’s and KPMG’s new vaccination requirements will go into effect on Oct. 1; EY said employees can return to the office this fall but didn’t go into detail about in-office attendance or frequency, according to the article.
Most major accounting firms in Canada to require vaccination for workers in offices [The Globe and Mail]