United Airlines has established a vaccination policy for employees who have requested a medical or religious exemption.The policy allows temporary leave for employees with an approved religious or medical exemption beginning October 2.Front-facing employees who have a denied exemption and do not get vaccinated will be fired.See more stories on Insider’s business page .10 Things in Tech: Get the latest tech trends & innovations United Airlines has strengthened its employee vaccination requirement policy , which was already one of the strictest in the industry.
On August 6, United announced it would require all employees to be fully vaccinated against COVID-19 by October 25, but pushed that deadline up to September 27 after the FDA fully approved the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID vaccine.
In an email sent to employees Wednesday and seen by Insider, United outlined its vaccination policy regarding workers that have since applied for medical or religious accommodation.According to United:
Front-facing operational workers, including flight attendants, pilots, and airport customer service agents, who have an their religious exemption approved will be put on temporary, unpaid leave starting October 2.
Workers with an approved medical exemption will be put on medical leave consistent with the individual’s collective bargaining agreement on October 2.Front-facing operational employees that have their religious or medical exemption application denied will have five weeks to get fully vaccinated from the date of the denial or be separated from the company according to their CBA.
They must recieve their first shot by September 27.Operational employees with minimal personal interaction, like ramp agents and mechanics, have the same policies as front-facing staff for denied medical and religious exemptions.
However, because it is easier to social distance and a lot of the work is done outside, non-front-facing workers with an approved exemption will only remain on unpaid leave until United has established a safety policy for unvaccinated workers, like masks and testing.For non-operational staff, like those who work at headquarters, will follow the same policies as non-front-facing workers.According to United, management employees do not have the option to work from home if they choose to not get the COVID vaccine because most are on a hybrid schedule, meaning they must occasionally report to the office for meetings or other critical work functions.United explained that the decision to create a strict policy for front-facing workers was because the company does not want to put unvaccinated workers in a high contact environment with colleagues and customers.Employees who were put on temporary, unpaid leave will be welcomed back to the company once the pandemic recedes to an acceptable level.
Since the August 6 announcement requiring employees to be vaccinated, over half of its unvaccinated population have gotten the shot, according to United.
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