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American, Alaska Air will end pay protections for unvaccinated staff if they contract Covid

  • American Air and Alaska Air said unvaccinated workers will have to use their sick time if they have to quarantine for contracting or coming into contact with Covid.
  • Southwest Airlines says it will restore pay for quarantine time deducted from employees' sick day banks back to mid-June.
  • United last month announced a vaccine mandate and Delta will impose a $200 surcharge on employees under company health insurance if they're not vaccinated.

American Airlines flight 718, the first U.S. Boeing 737 MAX commercial flight since regulators lifted a 20-month grounding in November, takes off from Miami, Florida, December 29, 2020.Marco Bello | Reuters

American Airlines and Alaska Airlines will no longer cover Covid-19 quarantine time for employees who aren't vaccinated against the virus, the latest push to get staff inoculated.

"Going forward, 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 said in a staff memo Thursday. The change starts Oct. 1 and unvaccinated workers will have to use their sick time or medical leave if they miss work because of Covid.

The similar policy at Alaska Airlines went into effect Aug. 30.

Both airlines stopped short of instituting a vaccine mandate, like the one United Airlines announced last month, and the policy changes show diverging tactics among carriers in encouraging workers to get vaccinated.

Alaska Airlines on Thursday said it would pay employees $200 if they disclose their proof of Covid-19 vaccination by Oct. 15 and said those who fail to do so will be considered unvaccinated. Employees who are unvaccinated will have to wear masks at all times on the job and attend a "mandatory vaccine education program."

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