United to fire up to 600 employees who refuse to accept vaccine mandate

©United Airlines

United Airlines has confirmed that 593 of its employees who are currently refusing to abide by its vaccine mandate will have their contracts terminated if proof of vaccination is not produced by next Monday.

“This was an incredibly difficult decision but keeping our team safe has always been our first priority,” Chief Executive Scott Kirby and President Brett Hart told employees in a memo. The company has also confirmed that if between now and then any of these employees are vaccinated, their jobs will be safe. The company has agreed to consider objections to vaccination from employees based on religious or medical grounds, with the intention of placing those with religious exemptions on temporary unpaid leave. However, this has been put on hold until October 15 because of a lawsuit challenging the policy. Exemptions on these two grounds relate to approximately 3% of the carrier’s 67,000-strong U.S. workforce, while it is understood that, to date, 99% of the rest have been vaccinated against the COVID-19 virus.

In relation to future hires, a company spokesman indicated that there were approximately 25,000 positions which will become available in the next few years and being fully vaccinated against the virus will be a prerequisite. The same applies to all trainee pilots at its training school. United also dismissed rumors that the vaccine requirement was putting applicants off applying for jobs at the carrier, pointing out that it received 700 applications for approximately 400 openings last month at a Denver careers fair, while positions for 2,000 flight attendants has received 20,000 applications.

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