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United Airlines Will Require Employees to be Vaccinated Against the Coronavirus


United Airlines said on Friday that it would require all U.S. employees to be vaccinated against the coronavirus starting this fall. It was the first major airline to establish such a mandate and the latest in a small but growing number of businesses to do so.

Also on Friday, Amazon, the second-largest private employer in the country, and JPMorgan Chase revived mask mandates for vaccinated workers.

“We hope this will only be required for a few weeks,” Amazon, which had been allowing vaccinated employees to go without face coverings, wrote to its warehouse workers on Friday. “Everyone can do their part to speed our return to normal by getting vaccinated.”

JPMorgan, the nation’s largest bank, said unvaccinated employees must be tested at least twice a week and would not be allowed to attend indoor employee events with 25 or more people. The company’s operating committee also said in a memo that the firm “will continue with our previously stated return to the office schedule,” even as many companies, including the financial firms BlackRock and Wells Fargo, have postponed their mandatory return plans.

Amazon had already told its corporate employees that they wouldn’t be recalled to the office until January, pushing back a deadline that had been set for early September. But it has not indicated any changes to its vaccination policy, which encourages but does not mandate immunization.

Hours after United’s announcement, Frontier Airlines, a much smaller carrier, said it, too, would require vaccines for all employees. Frontier’s mandate begins on Oct. 1.

United’s employees will be required to upload proof of vaccination within five weeks of a vaccine’s full approval by the Food and Drug Administration (not the Federal Drug Administration as was reported here earlier) or by Oct. 25, whichever comes first. Those who provide proof by Sept. 20 will receive a full day’s pay, excluding pilots and flight attendants who have already received a union-negotiated bonus for getting vaccinated. So far, about 90 percent of United’s pilots and 80 percent of its flight attendants have been vaccinated, the airline said.

“We have no greater responsibility to you and your colleagues than to ensure your safety when you’re at work, and the facts are crystal clear: Everyone is safer when everyone is vaccinated,” Scott Kirby, the airline’s chief executive, and Brett Hart, its president, said in a memo to their staff.

Employees who fail to comply with the new policy will be fired. And while United will allow exceptions for religious or medical reasons, it will require documentation.

Mr. Kirby first floated the idea of a mandate at an internal forum in January, saying United would be “amongst the first wave of companies” to require vaccination.

Delta Air Lines requires new employees to be vaccinated, but existing employees are exempt. American Airlines is “not putting mandates in place” for employees or customers, its chief executive, Doug Parker, said in an interview with the New York Times columnist Kara Swisher.

Airlines have generally dismissed the idea of mandates for customers. Mr. Parker said in the interview that doing so would create “enormous delays.” Delta’s chief executive, Ed Bastian, said on CNBC this week that it would be “very difficult” to require customers to receive a vaccine that hadn’t yet been fully federally approved.

Lananh Nguyen and Karen Weise contributed reporting.


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