UA staff with religious exemptions from COVID vaccine to be put on unpaid leave

Leonard Zhukovsky /

United Airlines employees who were granted exemptions from getting vaccinations against COVID-19 for religious reasons will be put on unpaid leave beginning October 2, 2021, the airline told employees in a memo.

In August 2021, United Airlines gave a mandate for its 67,000 US-based employees to be vaccinated against COVID-19 and acknowledged that it would consider exemptions based on religious and medical reasons, as well as personal beliefs. 

However, due to the recent rise in COVID-19 cases, United Airlines made the decision to place the unpaid leave rule until “specific safety measures for unvaccinated employees are instituted,” the airline stated in the memo. 

“Given the large number of people who work at and travel through our operation daily, we need to do everything we can to ensure their safety. As we said when we introduced our vaccination policy, everyone is safer when everyone is vaccinated.”

The rule applies to all employees who received an exemption, regardless of their role in the company. Those who have requests for exemptions denied will be given until September 27, 2021, to have their first dose of vaccine. If they fail to get their first shot by that date, or five weeks from the date of denial notice, the employee will be separated from the company, the memo said. 

Employees who are given medical exemptions from the COVID-19 vaccine will be put on temporary medical leave.

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