United Airlines To Make Vaccines Mandatory For All Employees

United Airlines is making headlines today for requiring that all of its employees are vaccinated against COVID-19. This makes the US carrier the first major airline in the country to implement such a policy. While other airlines have instituted vaccination policies based on the type of duty, it appears that this mandate will be company-wide.

United B737
United Airlines is the first of its US peers to implement this type of policy. Will other carriers follow?  Photo: Vincenzo Pace | Simple Flying

“This fall, every US-based United employee will be required to receive a COVID-19 vaccine…the latest potential deadline for meeting this requirement is October 25th.” -United Airlines message to employees

Show vaccination proof by late October

United Airlines is telling its employees that they will need to be vaccinated if they are to continue working for the carrier. CTV News reports that if an airline employee refuses to show proof of vaccination, they will be let go.

In an internal correspondence to employees that has since been openly provided to the media, United’s leadership said the following:

“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, and the facts are crystal clear: everyone is safer when everyone is vaccinated.” 

United employees
67,000 US employees are subject to the new mandate. Photo: United Airlines

Policy execution

United Airlines will require its employees to upload a vaccine card showing that they have received two doses of the Pfizer or Moderna vaccine (or a single dose of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine) five weeks after the FDA has announced it has fully approved a COVID-19 vaccine, or five weeks after September 20th, whichever comes first. The airline goes on to say:

“So, the latest potential deadline for meeting this requirement is  October 25th. 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 records must be uploaded to a company portal, which is referred to as “Flying Together.”

United employees
United employees who comply with the requirement will receive an additional day of pay. Photo: United Airlines

Incentives and exemptions

The airline offers an additional day of pay as an incentive for those complying with the policy. Employees who are already vaccinated – and for those employees vaccinated and upload their records before September 20th will receive this additional day of pay. It should be noted that airline pilots and flight attendants who have already received union-negotiated compensation for uploading their vaccine records are not eligible.

A United spokesperson reports that the airline will consider exemptions on a case-by-case basis. This will include the evaluation of reasons, including health or religion. Those employees deemed exempt will have to wear masks at all times.

Other airlines around the world have been pushing for similar policies. This includes Qantas looking to make vaccines mandatory for crew, and Cathay Pacific requiring proof of vaccination to set foot on its property (or else face regular testing).

What do you think of United’s latest policy? Do you think other airlines should follow suit? Let us know what you think by leaving a comment.