Southwest Airlines gives vaccinated employees two extra days of pay

September 16, 2021, 8:37 PM UTC

Southwest Airlines is using a carrot-and-stick approach to encourage employees to get a COVID-19 vaccine.

The carrier announced late Wednesday that employees who get fully vaccinated will receive the equivalent of two days’ salary if they show proof by Nov. 15. Those who don’t could face some hardships, as the company plans to cut quarantine pay protections for unvaccinated people who get sick from the virus. Those protections gave employees full pay for up to 10 days if they were exposed to or got COVID on the job.

Workers will still be able to use their regular sick days if infected.

“If you have not been vaccinated and choose to do so, this timeline gives you enough time to receive both rounds of a two-series vaccine or the single-dose vaccine,” Southwest wrote to staff in the memo announcing the updated policies.

The extra pay perk could be a welcome to flight crews (who aren’t paid hourly, but will receive a bonus equal to what they would make for 13-trip segments). Last month, Southwest announced it will cut its flight schedule through Nov. 5 as it struggles with staffing issues and to better align its employee operations. The airline cuts will average 27 flights per day from Sept. 7 through Oct. 6, and 162 daily flights from Oct. 7 through Nov. 5.

Similar cuts are expected in November and December, though the carrier said it was aiming to maintain the usual number around the holidays, in anticipation of higher traffic.

The move follows Delta Air Lines, which said it would charge non-vaccinated employees an extra $200 per month for their health plans. United, meanwhile, has set a Sept. 27 deadline for its employees to be vaccinated. Those who refuse will face termination or unpaid leave, a move that has greatly increased its vaccination numbers.

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