Alaska Airlines is putting its money where its masked mouth is by rewarding employees for getting the coronavirus vaccine and says it will only hire new employees that have been vaccinated. The new policy was just short of a vaccine mandate, but will provide incentives for employees who’ve been vaccinated and remove benefits from those who’ve refused to get the shot.

The airline has announced this week in a press release that it would pay $200 to employees who can give proof of a COVID-19 vaccination and that 75% of its staff has already received the shot.

  • Alaska Airlines said it believes “having as many people as possible vaccinated” is the “best path for protection against COVID-19 and we will continue to strongly encourage our employees to be vaccinated.”
  • Employees who have not been vaccinated will be required to “participate in a vaccine education program” and unvaccinated employees who miss work due to exposure or infection will no longer receive “special COVID pay,” according the airline.
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Why Alaska Airline updated its coronavirus policy for employees

Explaining the reason for the new policy, Alaska Airlines CEO Ben Minicucci told employees on Thursday “vaccinated people contract and spread COVID at a much lower rate than those who are unvaccinated,” reported The Seattle Times.

  • The airline’s new coronavirus policy — updated as the virus surges across the country — has been in part inspired by the loss of three of its employees late this summer, according to The Seattle Times.

Should airlines require employees to be vaccinated?

Earlier this month, United Airlines became the first carrier to require all U.S.-based employees to get the coronavirus vaccine, Insider reported.

  • “This fall, every U.S.-based United employee will be required to receive a COVID-19 vaccine and upload their vaccination record to Flying Together,” employees were told in a memo, reported Insider
  • Hawaiian Airlines also requires staff to get vaccinated.
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Starting on Nov. 1, Delta Airlines will raise health insurance premiums for unvaccinated employees by $200, Deseret News reported.

  • Delta will also require unvaccinated employees to get a weekly COVID-19 test.
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