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Delta will penalize unvaccinated employees with monthly health plan surcharge

Aug. 25, 2021
3 min read
Delta will penalize unvaccinated employees with monthly health plan surcharge
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Delta Air Lines will impose a $200 monthly surcharge on employees who do not receive the COVID-19 vaccine, the airline said Wednesday.

The surcharge will apply to any unvaccinated employee who uses Delta's employer-provided health plan.

Additionally, unvaccinated workers will be required to wear masks while indoors, and submit to weekly COVID-19 testing starting Sept. 12. Unvaccinated employees will also be ineligible for pay protection if they contract the illness beginning Sept. 30. The surcharge will take effect on Nov. 1.

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About 75% of Delta employees are already vaccinated, CEO Ed Bastian said in a memo to staff on Wednesday. Delta appeared to be the first major U.S. company to use financial penalties as a measure to encourage employees to become vaccinated.

Major U.S. airlines including Delta, American, and Southwest have come under pressure to mandate vaccines among employees after United Airlines announced an unequivocal mandate for its workers earlier this month. Aside from those with documented religious or medical exemptions, United employees who fail to provide proof of vaccination by Sept. 27 will be fired.

Are you an airline employee or industry insider? Message this reporter with tips, feedback, or opinions at david.slotnick@thepointsguy.com.

Frontier Airlines and Hawaiian Airlines have issued similar mandates to United's. However, Frontier will allow employees to skip vaccination in lieu of weekly testing, while Hawaiian did not immediately address consequences for employees who refuse to comply with the policy.

Airlines have not implemented vaccine requirements for passengers, aside from on international flights where vaccination is required to enter the destination country.

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Each Delta employee who is hospitalized with COVID-19 costs the airline an average of $50,000, Bastian said in Wednesday's memo.

"This surcharge will be necessary to address the financial risk the decision to not vaccinate is creating for our company," Bastian wrote. "In recent weeks since the rise of the B.1.617.2 variant, all Delta employees who have been hospitalized with COVID were not fully vaccinated."

Although some companies and executives — including Bastian — have expressed hesitancy to mandate vaccination while the jabs were only available under Emergency Use Authorizations, the FDA issued its full approval to one of the vaccines, made by Pfizer, on Monday.

Both Delta and United previously said that all new hires must be vaccinated.

As discussion of compulsory vaccination in public and private workplaces has emerged, employers have noted the potential for lengthy litigation or other resistance, as the Washington Post reported.

More: Delta is testing new tool to let passengers upload vaccine cards ahead of their flight

However, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) said in December that employees can legally require that existing and new employees be vaccinated, providing that exceptions are allowed on medical or religious grounds.

Featured image by Getty Images
Editorial disclaimer: Opinions expressed here are the author’s alone, not those of any bank, credit card issuer, airline or hotel chain, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.

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TPG Editor‘s Rating
Card Rating is based on the opinion of TPG‘s editors and is not influenced by the card issuer.
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Why We Chose It

If you are looking to take your premium rewards to the highest level, this card is really a no brainer in our eyes. Chase's Ultimate Rewards make points easy to redeem, with a wide range of 10 airline and three hotel transfer partners and a friendly user interface. Despite the high annual fee, Chase is consistently adding new benefits to keep the card competitive in a fierce premium rewards field.

Pros

  • $300 annual travel credit as reimbursement for travel purchases charged to your card each account anniversary year
  • Access to Chase Ultimate Rewards hotel and airline travel partners
  • Unlimited 3x points on the broad category of travel and dining
  • 50% more value when you redeem your points for travel through Chase Ultimate Rewards®
  • Broad definitions for travel and dining bonus categories

Cons

  • Steep $550 annual fee
  • May not make sense for people that don't travel frequently
  • You must spend the $300 travel credit before earning 3x points for travel and dining
  • No automatic hotel elite status
  • Earn 80,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. That's $1,200 toward travel when you redeem through Chase Ultimate Rewards®
  • $300 Annual Travel Credit as reimbursement for travel purchases charged to your card each account anniversary year.
  • Earn 5x total points on flights and 10x total points on hotels and car rentals when you purchase travel through Chase Ultimate Rewards® immediately after the first $300 is spent on travel purchases annually. Earn 3x points on other travel and dining & 1 point per $1 spent on all other purchases
  • Get 50% more value when you redeem your points for travel through Chase Ultimate Rewards®. For example, 80,000 points are worth $1,200 toward travel
  • 1:1 point transfer to leading airline and hotel loyalty programs
  • Access to 1,300+ airport lounges worldwide after an easy, one-time enrollment in Priority Pass™ Select and up to $100 application fee credit every four years for Global Entry, NEXUS, or TSA PreCheck®
  • Count on Trip Cancellation/Interruption Insurance, Auto Rental Collision Damage Waiver, Lost Luggage Insurance and more