Toyota starts to lift mask requirement for some U.S. workers

Toyota Motor North America will allow some of its U.S. manufacturing and office employees to work without a mask beginning next month if they provide proof of vaccination and wear a “company-issued identifier.”

The policy will apply July 5 to production facilities in Missouri and Tennessee and July 12 to headquarters in Plano, Texas, as well as plants in Indiana and Kentucky, a company spokesman confirmed. Toyota’s remaining facilities in the U.S., Canada and Mexico will retain their mask requirements for all workers, following local health guidelines.

The Japanese automaker sent home almost all of its 36,000 U.S. employees, including the more than 4,000 employees of its once bustling headquarters in Plano, in March 2020 because of COVID-19.

For office workers, a return to the workplace is not yet mandatory, a company spokesman confirmed, but for those wishing to do so without a mask, the procedure will include signing a consent form that will allow the automaker to confirm an employee’s vaccination information.

Toyota executives said during the pandemic that the company achieved equal or in some cases increased efficiencies as its office employees worked remotely and that it planned to continue to offer remote work going forward as a way to improve recruiting and retention.

Some Plano headquarters employees have returned to their offices at least sporadically, while the company’s top executive team continued to work from the office during the pandemic, following social distancing, masking and other public health protocols.

Toyota is continuing to offer a $100 incentive to all of its U.S. employees if they get vaccinated and share proof of their vaccination with the automaker, the spokesman said.

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