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American Airlines Halts Covid-19 Leave for Unvaccinated Employees

As of Oct. 1, any unvaccinated employee who needs to miss work because of the virus will need to use earned sick days or medical leave.

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American Airlines is the latest airline to incentivize Covid-19 vaccination among employees by leveraging benefits. 

Joe Raedle | Getty Images

In a memo to staff last week, the company said “pandemic leave will only be offered to team members who are fully vaccinated and who provide their vaccination card” following the Fodd and Drug Administration’s full approval of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine, per Fox Business

That means that as of Oct. 1, any unvaccinated employee who needs to miss work because of the virus will need to use earned sick days or medical leave.

Related: American Airlines Will Cancel Hundreds of Flights Due to Staffing Shortages

The early October deadline gives unvaccinated staffers enough time to get both doses of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine or the Moderna vaccine, which require shots spaced apart by two weeks.

The memo Fox Business obtained said, "We have heard from many team members that the full approval of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) gives them additional peace of mind when they were previously hesitant to get vaccinated.”

Last month, Delta Airlines announced that unvaccinated employees will face penalties, including a $200 monthly fee.

Starting Sept. 12, American employees who aren’t vaccinated will be required to take a weekly Covid test as long as community case rates are high. Anyone with a positive test will be required to isolate and stay home from work.

The surcharge goes into effect Nov. 1 for any unvaccinated employee enrolled in Delta’s account-based healthcare plan.

The company said such a charge is “necessary to address the financial risk the decision to note vaccinate is creating” for Delta, given the average Covid-19 hospital stay costs the airline $50,000.