Ford delays office return again as cases spread in Michigan

Photographer: Jeff Kowalsky/Bloomberg

Ford Motor Co. delayed its salaried workers’ return to the office again, citing continued spread of Covid-19 as its home state of Michigan has become a national hot spot.

The return has been moved to March from January, Ford said Monday. The automaker initially planned to bring back the employees in July, which was later moved to January after the virus continued to surge.

Ford now says it plans to bring back a limited number of employees to test its “flexible hybrid” system — in which workers only come in for collaborative work — in February, with a full return the following month. The carmaker is one of several companies, including Apple Inc., that are delaying office returns as the virus surges nationwide.

“The state of Covid-19 virus remains fluid, and despite the success of our ongoing safety protocols and increased vaccination rates, we are shifting the start date of the hybrid work model to March,” the company said by email.

The Dearborn, Michigan-based company is requiring most of its roughly 32,000 U.S. salaried employees to be vaccinated by Dec. 8 or potentially face unpaid leave.

Michigan has the highest seven-day rolling average of new coronavirus cases in the U.S. Hospitals in the state have been overwhelmed, and the U.S. Defense Department is sending doctors and nurses to help.

–By Keith Naughton (Bloomberg)

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