Public Health

American, Alaska Air will end protection for unvaccinated employees if they contract Covid

American Airlines Flight 718, the first US commercial flight of the Boeing 737 MAX since regulators lifted a 20-month primer in November, will depart Miami, Florida on December 29, 2020.

Marco Bello | Reuters

American Airlines and Alaska Airlines will no longer cover the Covid-19 quarantine period for employees not vaccinated against the virus, the latest move to vaccinate staff.

“Because there is an FDA-approved vaccine, future pandemic leave will only be offered to team members who are fully vaccinated and provide us with their vaccination card,” American said in a staff note on Thursday. The change begins October 1st and unvaccinated workers will have to take their sick leave or sick leave if they miss work due to Covid.

The similar policy at Alaska Airlines took effect on August 30th.

Both airlines failed to get a vaccination mandate in place, as United Airlines announced last month, and the policy changes show different tactics among airlines to encourage workers to vaccinate.

Alaska Airlines said Thursday that if they provided their evidence of Covid-19 vaccination by October 15, it would pay employees $ 200, saying those who don’t will be considered unvaccinated. Employees who are not vaccinated are required to wear masks at all times and participate in a “mandatory vaccination training program”.

Southwest Airlines, which also does not require employees to be vaccinated, said it would reimburse workers retrospectively quarantined due to Covid-19 infection or close contact with a person who tested positive for their salary or paid leave June 16. The company discontinued this program in mid-June, citing a decline in Covid cases and high availability of vaccines.

The Southwest Pilots Union sued the airline earlier this week, alleging that a number of Covid-related policies, including the end of paid time off due to exposure or infection, required negotiations with the union.

“As COVID-19 cases continue to increase due to the Delta variant, Southwest is taking an additional step to support our employees by introducing a quarantine payment program,” said spokeswoman Brandy King. The new policy will restore leisure balances for employees “previously quarantined and responsible for business-related incidents over the summer as cases increased among the general population across the country”.

Delta Air Lines announced last week that it will charge a $ 200 monthly surcharge on Nov. 1 for employees covered by company health insurance if they are not vaccinated. The Atlanta-based airline also said it would end paid protection for unvaccinated employees if they miss work due to Covid infection.

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