United Airlines ask unvaccinated workers to go on temporary leave

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United Airlines planes sit on the tarmac at the San Francisco International Airport (SFO) in San Francisco, California, USA, 22 February 2021. Federal regulators and United Airlines recently announced they will be grounding 24 Boeing 777 aircraft powered by Pratt & Whitney 4000 series engines, the same engine used in the United Flight 328, tail number N772UA incident that experienced a right engine failure that scattered parts over a neighborhood in Colorado bound for Honolulu, Hawaii and made an emergency on its return to Denver International Airport. EPA/JOHN G. MABANGLO
United Airlines planes sit on the tarmac at the San Francisco International Airport (SFO) in San Francisco, California, USA, 22 February 2021. Federal regulators and United Airlines recently announced they will be grounding 24 Boeing 777 aircraft powered by Pratt & Whitney 4000 series engines, the same engine used in the United Flight 328, tail number N772UA incident that experienced a right engine failure that scattered parts over a neighborhood in Colorado bound for Honolulu, Hawaii and made an emergency on its return to Denver International Airport. EPA/JOHN G. MABANGLO

United Airlines Holdings on Thursday announced that it was putting all of its unvaccinated employees on unpaid leave beginning from October 2.

All these employees had sought exemption from the airlines’ compulsory vaccination policy on religious as well as medical grounds. These include also those workers, whose exemptions have been approved.

This move, the airlines said, was taken keeping in mind the safety of the airline workers and customers, given the present Covid-19 situation in the US.

According to an airlines internal memo, employees with religious exemptions will be placed on temporary, unpaid personal leave, and those given medical exemptions will be sent on temporary medical leave.

The airline has not made it clear how long the unpaid leave is going to be.

The workers in “operational customer-facing roles,” like pilots, flight attendants and customer service agents were informed that “once the pandemic meaningfully recedes, you will be welcomed back to the team on active status.”

Those in non-customer-facing roles, like technicians and dispatchers, need to take weekly Covid-19 tests and wear a mask all the time, including outdoors, the airline said.

Employees who requested exemptions and were not given, will lose their jobs if they fail to get the first shot by September 27 or are not fully vaccinated within five weeks of the date of their denial notice.

The airline company had asked all its US-based employees to get vaccinated in early August as Covid cases began to rise, thus being the first US airline to make a vaccine compulsory.

Employees are required to upload a vaccine card showing proof of vaccination by September 27, which marks five weeks since the FDA gave full approval to the Pfizer Covid-19 vaccine.

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