Delta will penalize unvaccinated employees with monthly health plan surcharge
This post contains references to products from one or more of our advertisers. We may receive compensation when you click on links to those products. Terms apply to the offers listed on this page. For an explanation of our Advertising Policy, visit this page.
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.
Want more airline-specific news? Sign up for TPG’s free new biweekly Aviation newsletter!
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 firstname.lastname@example.org.
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.
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.
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 photo by Michael A. McCoy/Getty Images.
Welcome to The Points Guy!
Earn 90,000 bonus miles and 10,000 Medallion® Qualification Miles (MQMs) after you spend $3,000 in purchases on your new card in the first three months of card membership. Offer ends 11/10/2021.
With Status Boost™, earn 10,000 Medallion Qualification Miles (MQMs) after you spend $25,000 in purchases on your Card in a calendar year, up to two times per year getting you closer to Medallion Status. Earn 3X Miles on Delta purchases and purchases made directly with hotels, 2X Miles at restaurants and at U.S. supermarkets and earn 1X Mile on all other eligible purchases. Terms Apply.
- Limited Time Offer: Earn 90,000 Bonus Miles and 10,000 Medallion® Qualification Miles (MQMs) after you spend $3,000 in purchases on your new Card in your first 3 months. Offer expires 11/10/2021.
- Earn up to 20,000 Medallion® Qualification Miles (MQMs) with Status Boost® per year. After you spend $25,000 in purchases on your Card in a calendar year, you can earn 10,000 MQMs two times per year, getting you closer to Medallion® Status. MQMs are used to determine Medallion® Status and are different than miles you earn toward flights.
- Earn 3X Miles on Delta purchases and purchases made directly with hotels.
- Earn 2X Miles at restaurants worldwide, including takeout and delivery and at U.S. supermarkets.
- Earn 1X Miles on all other eligible purchases.
- Receive a Domestic Main Cabin round-trip companion certificate each year upon renewal of your Card. *Payment of the government imposed taxes and fees of no more than $75 for roundtrip domestic flights (for itineraries with up to four flight segments) is required. Baggage charges and other restrictions apply. See terms and conditions for details.
- Enjoy your first checked bag free on Delta flights.
- Fee Credit for Global Entry or TSA Pre✓®.
- Enjoy an exclusive rate of $39 per person per visit to enter the Delta Sky Club® for you and up to two guests when traveling on a Delta flight.
- No Foreign Transaction Fees.
- $250 Annual Fee.
- Terms Apply.
- See Rates & Fees