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No jab, no job: Qantas imposes vaccine mandate on 30,000 workers

Business

Qantas will mandate that all of its 30,000 staff get a COVID-19 vaccine, making it the first major corporate to pursue the policy.

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Queensland-based Alliance Aviation has also imposed the rule as has food processor SPC and Telstra this week offered staff a $200 equivalent to get the vaccine, but did not impose a mandate.

Travel companies, like Flight Centre, have also said things like COVID passports were inevitable.

Qantas said its frontline employees – which included cabin crew, pilots and airport workers – would have to be fully vaccinated by November 15 and the remainder of employees by March 31, next year. There would be exemptions for those who are unable for documented medical reasons to be vaccinated, but this was expected to be very rare.

The policy appears to have support from its staff. A survey of 12,000 showed  89 per cent had already been vaccinated or were planning to be and only 4 per cent were unwilling or unable to get the jab.

About three-quarters thought vaccinations should be a requirement for all employees and would be concerned if other employees in the workplace weren’t vaccinated.

Qantas said the mandate already applied to thousands of aviation workers who supported international flights in New South Wales, South Australia and New Zealand. Multiple airlines around the world had also made it a requirement.

Qantas chief executive Alan Joyce said having a fully-vaccinated workforce would safeguard our people against the virus and also protect customers and the communities the airline flew to.

“One crew member can fly into multiple cities and come into contact with thousands of people in a single day. Making sure they are vaccinated given the potential of this virus to spread is so important and I think it’s the kind of safety leadership people would expect from us,” Joyce said.

“We provide an essential service, so this will help guard against the disruptions that can be caused by just one positive COVID-case shutting down a freight facility or airport terminal.

“It’s clear that vaccinations are the only way to end the cycle of lockdowns and border closures and for a lot of Qantas and Jetstar employees that means getting back to work again. This was one of the largest responses to any survey we’ve conducted, even with thousands of our people stood down, which shows just how important this is for them.

“Since vaccines became available, we’ve strongly encouraged all of our people to get the jab and are offering paid time off to get it done. We were really pleased to see from the survey that more than three-quarters of those who responded have already rolled up their sleeve at least once and 60 per cent have had both jabs.

“Many of our people said they would feel concerned about working with unvaccinated colleagues, which is something that many workplaces across the country are grappling with.

“We understand there will be a very small number of people who decide not to get the vaccine, and that’s their right, but it’s our responsibility to provide the safest possible environment for our employees and for our customers,” added Mr Joyce.

Unions have previously been against the wholesale vaccination of staff and Qantas has not said what would happen to those who refuse.

However, it said further discussions would take place with employees, their health and safety representatives and unions over the coming weeks on the detail of the policy, including how medical exemptions will be applied.

In a separate survey of more than 1000 Qantas customers, 92 per cent said they expect Qantas crew to be fully vaccinated.

 

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