Qantas Group will make it mandatory for all of its 22,000 workers to be fully vaccinated against COVID-19.
- Frontline workers will have until November 15 to get vaccinated, backroom staff until March 31
- The airline says more than three-quarters of its staff have already had at least one shot, with 60 per cent fully vaccinated
- Qantas says three-quarters of staff surveyed by the airline support the move
Frontline employees — including cabin crew, pilots and airport workers — will need to be fully vaccinated by November 15 and the remainder of employees by March 31.
There will be exemptions for those who are unable to be vaccinated for documented medical reasons, which is expected to be very rare.
“Having a fully vaccinated workforce will safeguard our people against the virus but also protect our customers and the communities we fly to,” Qantas chief executive Alan Joyce said.
Mr Joyce said, as vaccines have become available, the airline has “strongly encouraged” all of its staff to get vaccinated and was offering paid time off to get it done.
Staff ‘concerned’ about unvaccinated colleagues
The policy follows consultation with Qantas and Jetstar employees, including a survey sent to its 22,000 workers to seek their views on vaccination.
The company said, of 12,000 responses, 89 per cent had already been vaccinated or are planning to be and only 4 per cent were unwilling or unable to get the jab.
Around three-quarters said it should be a requirement for all employees to be vaccinated and would be concerned if other employees in the workplace were not vaccinated.
“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,” Mr Joyce noted.
“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.
“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.”
Airlines have unique potential for COVID spread
The company noted that thousands of aviation workers supporting international flights in New South Wales, South Australia and New Zealand are already required to be vaccinated by those jurisdictions and that multiple airlines around the world have also made it a requirement.
Mr Joyce said the key issue was that “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,” he 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.”
Further discussions will 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.