Starting in October, any United Airlines employee granted a religious exemption from receiving the coronavirus vaccine will be placed on a temporary, unpaid personal absence.
According to Fox Business, the ban will be in effect until “specific safety measures for unvaccinated employees are instituted,” according to Kirk Limacher, United’s vice president of human resources, in a memo to employees,
According to the memo, this includes consumer-facing positions such as pilots, flight attendants, and customer care employees.
“There are close to 100,000 people in the hospital, and an average of 1,500 people are dying from COVID every day,” Limacher said. “All these statistics apply almost exclusively to the unvaccinated.”
“Given the dire statistics listed above, we can no longer allow unvaccinated people back into the workplace until we better understand how they might interact with our customers and their vaccinated co-workers,” Limacher added.
In the memo, Limacher expressed alarm about “steep increases in COVID infections, hospitalizations and deaths” among the unvaccinated.
The seven-day average of daily COVID (Chinese Communist Party Virus or CCP Virus) deaths, according to the airline, is the highest it’s been since March, and infections are up 20%, with new cases springing up all over the country.
According to the message, employees placed on temporary leave may return to work once additional testing and safety measures have been implemented. The airline anticipates informing affected employees of their return date by the middle of October. However, their “official return to work date might be significantly later.”
Employees who are denied a religious exemption immediately will be compelled to get vaccinated within five weeks of their denial, or they will be required to get their first injection by Sept. 27. According to the memo, if they don’t, they’ll be “separated from the company.”
“Given the large number of people who work at and travel through our operation daily, we need to do everything we can to ensure their safety,” Limacher said. “As we said when we introduced our vaccination policy, everyone is safer when everyone is vaccinated.”
The most common reason for religious exemptions to the COVID-19 vaccinations is the objections to how aborted fetal cells were used in the testing or manufacturing process. In addition, medical exemptions typically include a physician’s recommendation that a person not get a vaccine due to a particular underlying condition.
Unlike United, other major U.S. airlines such as Southwest, American, and Delta have elected not to require their employees to get vaccines. Delta CEO Ed Bastian argued that most of his company’s employees had already been vaccinated, but American Airlines chose to reward vaccinations with an extra vacation day next year, The Hill reported.
American Airlines last week took a stricter position on workers who contract CCP Virus and become ill, discontinuing its special pandemic leave and demanding staff to use their sick days. However, the company did not mandate vaccines for its employees.
“Given there is an FDA-approved vaccine, pandemic leave will only be offered to team members who are fully vaccinated and who provide their vaccination card to us,” American Airlines told its employees. However, the company added that if the virus continues to mutate, it may have to mandate vaccines for its employees in the future.