United Airlines to Put Unvaccinated Workers With Religious Exemptions on Unpaid Leave

United Airlines employees who are granted religious exemptions by the company for COVID-19 vaccines will be on temporary, unpaid personal leaves starting Oct. 2, according to a memo sent to staff.
According to the company, employees will be permitted to return to work once safety and testing procedures have been completed.

The U.S. carrier has taken a hard line against employees who refuse to get vaccinated. It was the first U.S. carrier to announce that it would require vaccinations for employees in August.

United stated in the memo that more than half our employees were not vaccinated on the date (Aug. 6). We announced the requirement.

The airline stated that unvaccinated employees cannot be allowed back to work until they better understand their interactions with customers and their vaccinated colleagues.

Pilots, flight attendants, and other employees who deal with customers will be able to work indefinitely if they are granted religious exemptions.

United stated that once the pandemic has subsided, you will be able to return to active status.

United will allow some employees who are not customer facing to return to work faster, but they will require that unvaccinated employees undergo weekly COVID-19 testing and wear a mask at all time.

United stated that for some employees, the official return to work date may be significantly later than mid October.

United stated that employees who are denied religious exemptions must be vaccinated within five working days or they will be fired. United stated that the requirements and restrictions for employees applying for medical exemptions are identical, but employees who win exemptions will be placed temporarily on medical leave.

American Airlines announced Friday that it will not offer special leave beginning next month for unvaccinated employees who are required to be quarantined due to COVID-19.

Delta Air Lines announced last month that employees will be required to pay $200 more per month for company-sponsored healthcare if they do not choose to get vaccinated against COVID-19.

WestJet Group, Canada announced Wednesday that effective Oct. 30, all employees will need to be fully immunized.

Skift has the complete memo here:

Download (PDF, 90KB)

(Reporting by David Shepardson, Washington, and Sanjana Shivadas in Bengaluru; Editing done by Sriraj Kalluvila & Aurora Ellis

Sanjana Shivdas and David Shepardson from Reuters wrote this article. It was licensed legally through the Industry Dive publisher system. Please direct all licensing questions to legal@industrydive.com.

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