Australian airline Qantas (ASX: QAN) has today announced it will require all employees to be fully vaccinated against COVID-19 by 31 March 2022.
The move means all frontline employees - cabin crew, pilots, and airport workers - will need to be fully vaccinated by 15 November 2021, and the remainder by the end of March next year.
There will be exemptions for those who are unable to be vaccinated for documented medical reasons.
"Having a fully vaccinated workforce will safeguard our people against the virus but also protect our customers and the communities we fly to," Qantas CEO Alan Joyce said.
"One crew member can fly into multiple cities and come into contact with thousands of people in a single day. Making sure they are vaccinated given the potential of this virus to spread is so important and I think it's the kind of safety leadership people would expect from us.
"We provide an essential service, so this will help guard against the disruptions that can be caused by just one positive COVID-case shutting down a freight facility or airport terminal."
The policy follows consultation with Qantas and Jetstar employees, including a survey sent to 22,000 people to seek their views on vaccination.
The results showed that of those who responded:
- 89 per cent had already been vaccinated or are planning to be.
- 4 per cent were unwilling or unable to get the jab.
- Around three-quarters think it should be a requirement for all employees to be vaccinated and would be concerned if other employees in the workplace weren't vaccinated.
"It's clear that vaccinations are the only way to end the cycle of lockdowns and border closures and for a lot of Qantas and Jetstar employees that means getting back to work again. This was one of the largest responses to any survey we've conducted, even with thousands of our people stood down, which shows just how important this is for them," Joyce said.
"Since vaccines became available, we've strongly encouraged all of our people to get the jab and are offering paid time off to get it done. We were really pleased to see from the survey that more than three quarters of those who responded have already rolled up their sleeve at least once and 60 per cent have had both jabs.
"We understand there will be a very small number of people who decide not to get the vaccine, and that's their right, but it's our responsibility to provide the safest possible environment for our employees and for our customers."
The move from Qantas comes after a decision by SPC to make the COVID-19 vaccine mandatory for all staff before the end of 2021.
The decision mirrors moves made internationally by other companies like Microsoft, Google and Disney, with SPC stressing the decision will ensure the health and wellbeing of all staff and the broader community.
Shares in QAN are down 0.23 per cent to $4.41 per share at 11.49am AEST.
Updated at 12.11pm AEST on 18 August 2021.
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