United Airlines announced this week that they were going to place employees who were granted vaccine mandate exemptions from the company’s COVID-19 policy on unpaid administrative leave.
A staff note was issued last Wednesday where the airline told employees who interact with customers on a day-to-day basis – including pilots, gate agents, flight attendants, and airport customer service agents – that they will not be allowed back to work after “the pandemic meaningfully recedes,” according to CNBC.
United did not provide a specific time frame for when the customer-facing employees would be able to expect that they can return to work, and of course this is leaving them to wonder about their long-term employment status.
Other employees have been granted religious exemptions and they are apparently the lucky ones because they don’t interact with customers on a daily basis. People such as mechanics and dispatchers were placed on unpaid leave as well, but they will be allowed to return once United has designed some new testing and health and safety measures.
Additionally, there was some staff who were granted certain medical exemptions to the company-wide vaccine mandate, and those individuals have also been placed on temporary medical leave.
Lastly, “if an employee’s request for a religious exemption is denied, they must be vaccinated within five weeks of the denial notice and get the first shot by Sept. 27, or they will be terminated,” CNBC noted.
Last month, the airline announced that it was going to require all 67,000 of its U.S.-based employees to have a full vaccination status by October 25 or be terminated, and they were the first major airline to make such a move.
“We know some of you will disagree with this decision to require the vaccine for all United employees. But, we have no greater responsibility to you and your colleagues than to ensure your safety when you’re at work,” CEO Scott Kirby said in a letter to employees, adding, “The facts are crystal clear: everyone is safer when everyone is vaccinated.”
However, at that time the airline also announced that they would grant certain exemptions based on religious beliefs, personal beliefs, and other medical reasons. They implied that those who had applied for exemptions would be able to keep their jobs, but they certainly seem to be going back on their word now.
However, this new measure seems to show that United is trying to force the hand of unvaccinated employees. The Blaze reached out to United Airlines and so far they have declined to comment.
Other major carriers are yet to follow suit, but Delta Air Lines did announce that they were going to jack up health insurance premiums by a whopping $200 starting this November.