Starbucks set a vaccine mandate for all of its employees in the United States, giving them an option of either getting fully vaccinated against COVID-19 by February 9 or getting a test done on a weekly basis

The coffee giant said it put the new policy in place on the basis of the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) guidelines, which instructed organisations with more than 100 employees to formulate a vaccine-or-test requirement.

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The requirement, which has faced numerous court challenges, was upheld last month by a three-judge panel with the United States Court of Appeals. The Supreme Court is scheduled to consider the requirement on Friday, according to reports from Associated Press.

The company, which has about 228,000 employees in the United States alone, has set the vaccine disclosure deadline for January 10. 

In a letter sent to employees in December, John Culver, the Chief Operating Officer of Starbucks said, “I recognize that partners have a wide spectrum of views on vaccinations, much like the rest of the country”, according to reports from Associated Press.

He added, “My responsibility, and that of every leader, is to do whatever we can to help keep you safe and create the safest work environment possible.”

Starbucks said full vaccination means two shots of either the Pfizer or Moderna vaccine or one shot of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine.

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If a Starbucks employee chooses to test weekly instead, they must pay the cost of testing themselves and get tested a pharmacy, clinic or other testing site where someone is observing the test. Religious or medical accommodations will be considered, but to work in a store, employees must test weekly, the company said.

Employees who test positive will be able to use paid time to self-isolate. Starbucks said it is currently offering employees two instances of paid isolation time, both up to five days each.

(With AP inputs)