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Reports: United employees who get exemption to vaccine mandate will be put on temporary unpaid leave

United Airlines Planes
Posted at 12:32 PM, Sep 09, 2021
and last updated 2021-09-09 12:32:33-04

United Airlines says some employees who are seeking exemptions to the company's vaccine mandate for religious or medical purposes will need to go on temporary unpaid leave beginning Oct. 2, according to NPR, CBS News and The Washington Post.

In an internal memo, United informed employees that those in "operational customer-facing roles" who remain unvaccinated — including pilots, flight attendants and customer service agents — would need to take unpaid leave for an undetermined amount of time.

"Once the pandemic meaningfully recedes, you will be welcomed back to the team on active status," the memo reads, according to NPR.

Employees in non-customer-facing roles, like technicians and dispatchers, will need to undergo weekly COVID-19 tests and wear masks at all times, including when outdoors.

In early August, United announced that all employees would need to provide proof of vaccination or face termination by this fall. The airline was the first to mandate vaccination for all employees.

United employees must get their first shot by Sept. 27.

According to CBS News, medical exemptions at the airlines are "judged by medical staffers, including nurses." Religious exemptions are handed down by "personnel-office employees."

United is just the latest major company to mandate that all employees get vaccinated as the highly contagious delta variant spreads throughout the country. Companies like Facebook, Google and The New York Times have said they will require those who wish to return to the office to be fully vaccinated before they do so.

While rival airline Delta says it will penalize workers who do not get vaccinated, it has stopped short of mandating them among its employees. Last month, Delta said that unvaccinated employees would be charged an additional $200 on their employee healthcare plan, would need to wear a mask indoors, be subjected to weekly COVID-19 tests and would eventually lose pay protection if they contract the virus.

Johns Hopkins Center for Systems Science and Engineering