Southwest cancels plan to put unvaccinated employees on unpaid leave

Southwest Airlines has nixed a plan to place employees who have applied for an exemption to the company’s vaccine mandate on unpaid leave if their case is still pending as of Dec. 8. 

In an email, the company stated that such employees instead will continue to work and be required to follow all mask and social-distancing guidelines applicable to their position while their exemption requests are under review. 

“While we intend to grant all valid requests for medical and/or religious accommodations, in the event a request is not granted, the company will provide adequate time for an employee to become fully vaccinated while continuing to work and adhering to safety protocols,” the carrier added. 

  • Related: Labor union says Southwest pilots aren’t doing a sickout

Southwest said the policy change, which was first reported by CNBC, was made last week. 

Airlines that hold federal contracts are required to adhere to the Biden administration’s requirement that federal workers be vaccinated by Dec. 8. 

Southwest pilots are suing to block the company’s vaccine mandate.

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