The new policy was outlined in a memo from Chief Executive Officer
The fee applies to employees in the airline’s health-care plan who haven’t received shots by Nov. 1. The company also will require weekly testing for employees who aren’t vaccinated by mid-September.
Delta stopped short of a mandatory vaccine
Delta is confident that its approach will succeed in moving its worker vaccination rate beyond 75%, a spokesman said when asked why the company didn’t impose a mandate. The potential penalty is “well within” legal parameters, he said.
While vaccine requirements have increased since Pfizer Inc. and BioNTech SE’s vaccine received full Food and Drug Administration
“Vaccine hesitant employees are likely to see this as a mandate or a punitive measure, as it creates an additional annual cost of $2,400 for that employee,” said
The fee for unvaccinated employees is “to address the financial risk” from their decision, Bastian said. The average hospital stay for Covid-19 patients has cost Delta $50,000 each, he said.
“With this week’s announcement that the FDA has granted full approval for the Pfizer vaccine, the time for you to get vaccinated is now,” Bastian said.
Delta was the best performer on the S&P 500
In May, Delta became the first major U.S. airline to require coronavirus shots for new employees. The airline had agreed not to mandate vaccinations for its pilots, the only major work group represented by a union, until at least Nov. 21. The pact also provided incentives for pilots to be vaccinated.
Delta would have to negotiate a new agreement “over any employer-mandated vaccination for pilots,” the Air Line Pilots Association said in a statement. Union leadership “has consistently advocated to maintain the right of each individual pilot to consult with his or her medical provider regarding Covid-19 vaccinations or booster doses.”
Under the policy announced Wednesday, any worker not fully vaccinated by Sept. 12 will be required to take a weekly coronavirus test “while community case rates are high,” Bastian’s memo said.
Employees who aren’t vaccinated must wear masks in all indoor settings, effective immediately. Delta also said that starting Sept. 30, the airline would preserve full pay for workers who have received both shots but who still get sick and may end up on short-term disability.
(Updates with company comment in fifth paragraph. In an earlier version, the company corrected its average cost for hospitalization.)
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