Ford is delaying its hybrid return-to-work program for employees who have not already returned to offices from October until no earlier than January due to the rapidly spreading delta variant of the coronavirus.
The automaker informed staff of its plans Wednesday morning, about five months after initially announcing the flexible working program for its roughly 86,000 employees globally who hadn’t returned to work yet.
“The state of the COVID-19 virus remains very fluid and therefore we are adjusting the start of our hybrid work arrangement to no earlier than January 2022,” Ford said in a statement.
About 120,000 to 130,000 of Ford’s 182,000 employees, primarily in manufacturing, have already returned to work. Schedules are not expected to change much, if any, for workers who need to be at a certain facility to perform their duties.
Ford’s 56,000 hourly U.S. employees started returning to work in May 2020 after Detroit’s automakers were forced to shutter factories for several weeks at the beginning of the pandemic.
Ford also announced it is launching a new “short term remote” work arrangement that will allow employees who don’t have to work at a particular site to work from an alternate location within the country of employment for up to 30 days a year.
“The flexible hybrid model will be the primary work arrangement for employees whose work is not site-dependent,” the company said.