United Airlines will require all of its employees to be vaccinated against COVID-19

Aug 6, 2021

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United Airlines will require all of its U.S. employees to receive a COVID-19 vaccination, the airline announced Friday Aug. 6, 2021.

In May, Delta Air Lines CEO Ed Bastian said that the airline would require all new hires to be vaccinated, but stopped short of requiring it for current employees. United followed several weeks later with a similar requirement. American Airlines, meanwhile, has not implemented a similar requirement.

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United’s latest policy, which was announced to employees through a memo from airline CEO Scott Kirby and president Brett Hart, goes a step further and requires all current employees to be vaccinated, specified as having received two doses of the Pfizer or Moderna vaccines or one dose of the Johnson and Johnson one.

Employees who do not receive the vaccine and upload their vaccination cards to the employee intranet will be terminated. Exemptions will be available for religious and medical reasons, but documentation will be required.

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The announcement comes after American Airlines CEO Doug Parker reiterated in recent days that his airline would not mandate vaccinations for employees, and Delta’s Bastian suggested that the airline would find it difficult to mandate vaccines that only have Emergency Use Authorization (EUA) rather than full approval.

United’s mandate will take effect five weeks after the Federal Food and Drug Administration (FDA) fully approves one of the vaccines, or five weeks after September 20, whichever comes first.

“However, according to media reports, the FDA is likely to announce its full approval for the vaccine early next month, so the earlier timeline is more likely,” the executives wrote in the memo.

Employees who upload their vaccine records to the company intranet before September 20 — whether they have already been vaccinated, or are in the coming weeks — will receive an additional paid day off, the memo said. Employees who “have already received union-negotiated compensation for uploading their vaccine records are not eligible.”

A senior United executive said the airline had several methods to spot fraudulent vaccine cards.

United leadership will host town halls with employees in the coming weeks to discuss the requirement.

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 won’t hire you unless you’ve been vaccinated, CEO says

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.

United is not currently planning to require passengers to provide proof of vaccination.

Featured photo courtesy of United Airlines

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