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American Airlines changes special leave policy for unvaccinated staff

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American Airlines said in a statement Thursday that unvaccinated staff must use their own sick days if they catch the coronavirus, ending the special pandemic leave for the company’s demographic.

The statement given to staff details the change in policy that is set to take effect at the beginning of October.

Previously, an employee who got sick with the virus had special pandemic leave and did not have to use their sick time to take days off.

The policy is still in place for fully vaccinated employees, but not for unvaccinated individuals.

“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,” the airline stated.

The company also warned that although the coronavirus vaccine is not mandatory yet, it could be in the future if the virus continues to mutate..

The move comes the same day Alaska Airlines announced new rules for unvaccinated individuals, restricting them from special COVID-19 pay if they miss work. 

We will also require all unvaccinated employees to participate in a vaccine education program and have stopped special COVID pay for unvaccinated employee absences due to exposure or infection. All new hires, effective immediately, will be required to be vaccinated before being hired at Alaska Airlines or Horizon Air,” the statement read. 

Alaska Airlines employees who do get vaccinated will receive a $200 payment. 

Businesses across the country instituted a mask mandate after the Federal Drug Administration fully approved the Pfizer vaccine, but some companies, like American Airlines, have made changes to their pandemic rules. 

Airlines, following federal guidelines, still require all employees regardless of vaccination status to wear masks during work.

Updated: 9:31 p.m.

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