One Major Airline Offers Extra Pay to Vaccinated Employees, Its Competitor Offers Unpaid Leave to Unvaccinated Workers

As the Delta variant of COVID-19 sweeps through the country, many companies are requiring employees to become vaccinated and abide by specific pandemic protocols.

This has been especially widespread in the airline industry, where many front-facing employees deal with a multitude of customers and travelers daily.

Southwest Airlines is the latest to jump on the vaccination train, but instead of making vaccines mandatory, the company is offering a pretty attractive incentive to encourage employees to get their shots.

Southwest employees who show proof of vaccination by November 15 will get an extra 16 hours of pay, while flight attendants and pilots for the airline will receive the equivalent pay of 13 segments, per a report by CNBC.

“If you have not been vaccinated and choose to do so, this timeline gives you enough time to receive both rounds of a two-series vaccine or the single-dose vaccine,” a memo to the airline staff reportedly stated.

Southwest did not immediately respond to Entrepreneur‘s request for comment. 

Southwest maintains the new protocols have nothing to do with President Biden’s new vaccine mandates for federal employees. These incentives follow closely behind an announcement from United Airlines, which stated it would be putting employees on temporary unpaid leave if they were not vaccinated by the end of this month.

“We are working hard to ensure the safety of our employees and customers while accommodating those employees who have sincerely held religious beliefs. Each submission for accommodation will be reviewed individually and will comply with any applicable collective bargaining agreement,” the airline said at the time in the letter obtained by Entrepreneur. “We expect to inform you if your submission was approved or denied in the next two weeks.”

Southwest reportedly lost around 4,300 employees from the end of 2019 to the end of 2020 due to the pandemic, accounting for around 7% of its total workforce. The airline stock, however, was up around 6.7% year-over-year as of Thursday morning.

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