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United Airlines staff who are granted religious exemptions to vaccine mandate will be put on unpaid leave

  • United last month said it would require its 67,000-person U.S. workforce to be vaccinated.
  • Staff can request exemptions to the mandate for religious or personal beliefs or medical reasons.
  • U.S. carriers have diverged on vaccine policies for staff.

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A United Airlines passenger aircraft prepares to leave its gate and taxi to the runway at San Francisco International Airport in San Francisco, California.Robert Alexander | Getty Images

United Airlines' employees who are granted exemptions to a company vaccinate mandate for religious reasons will be put on temporary unpaid leave starting next month, the airline told staff Wednesday, citing the recent rise in Covid cases.

The airline last month said its 67,000-person U.S. workforce must be vaccinated against Covid-19 this fall, but said it would consider exemptions for religious and personal beliefs as well as medical reasons.

Airlines' approaches to encourage vaccination rates of their staff have varied. Delta Air Lines is imposing a $200 surcharge on unvaccinated employees' company health care premiums. Delta, American Airlines and Alaska Airlines will end pay protections for unvaccinated employees who contract or are exposed to Covid-19.

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