SOUTHWEST Airlines Is Changing Their Vaccination Policy

Southwest Won’t Fire Unvaxxed Employees

  • Southwest Airlines has decided not to fire employees waiting for vaccine exemptions. 
  • Before the company had a plan in place to put those employees waiting for exemptions on unpaid leave by December 8. 
  • Employees waiting to hear back about their exemptions will now be paid. If the exemption is denied employees can reapply. 
  • Currently, employees have until November 24 to get vaccinated or apply for an exemption. 

“Instead of unpaid leave, employees awaiting judgment on their exemptions will continue to receive a paycheck and may even continue working “as [Southwest] coordinate[s] with them on meeting the requirements (vaccine or valid accommodation),” the note explains.

“Written by senior vice president of operations and hospitality Steve Goldberg and vice president and chief people officer Julie Weber, it reassures workers that they may continue working if their exemptions aren’t yet approved so long as they follow masking and social-distancing rules, and promises that staff can reapply if their exemption is denied if they have “new information or circumstances [they] would like the Company to consider.”

“The memo’s release comes after days of protesting outside Southwest’s Dallas headquarters and rumors of sick-outs among air traffic controllers and other employees. Southwest was forced to cancel thousands of flights last week – over 1,000 on Sunday alone – though it refused to acknowledge what was behind the cancellations, in many cases blaming the weather despite clear and sunny skies. Airports were snarled with angry passengers as would-be travelers arrived to find their flights mysteriously cancelled.

Susan Saunders 10/20/21

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