Southwest Airlines is introducing new incentives for Covid-19 vaccination for staff

A traveler wearing a protective mask speaks with an attendant at the Southwest Airlines check-in area at Oakland International Airport in Oakland, California, United States, on Tuesday, January 19, 2021.

David Paul Morris | Bloomberg | Getty Images

Southwest Airlines on Wednesday introduced new incentives to vaccinate staff against Covid-19, following similar policies that other carriers have launched earlier this year.

The Dallas-based carrier said it offers extra pay to staff showing proof of full vaccination in mid-November, according to a note from the company, which was reviewed by CNBC.

Employees who upload their immunization cards to the company at the end of Nov. 15 will receive 16 hours of pay, though flight attendants and pilots will receive pay for 13 travel segments, the company said.

Southwest has told staff that its new policies are “not in line” with the sweeping measures President Joe Biden announced last week to increase Covid-19 vaccinations. However, Southwest last week said it was “ready to go towards compliance” with the rules to come. Biden has asked the Department of Labor to make Covid inoculations mandatory for companies with more than 100 employees.

“If you are not vaccinated and choose to do so, this timeline gives you enough time to receive both rounds of a vaccine in two series or the vaccine in a single dose,” Southwest wrote to staff.

The Southwest will also limit quarantined pay protections for Covid infections to personnel who have been vaccinated, effective November 16th. Those employees without vaccination can still use their sick time.

The airline’s new policies come months after carriers including Delta Air Lines, American Airlines and United Airlines offered incentives such as extra pay to encourage staff to get vaccinated.

The recovery of airlines is closely linked to a decline in Covid homes, a loosening of travel restrictions and the resumption of business travel.

Carriers have taken variable approaches to vaccinating staff. United has called for the vaccination of its workforce of about 67,000 people in the United States and said it puts staff receiving religious exemptions on temporary leave without pay. Delta, for its part, plans to charge unvaccinated employees an additional $ 200 a month for the company’s health insurance beginning in November.

American and Alaska Airlines earlier this month announced that they had ended pay protection for unvaccinated workers.

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