After discussing it for weeks, the Qantas Group has confirmed it will require all employees to be fully vaccinated against COVID-19 as part of its commitment to safety.
All frontline employees – including cabin crew, pilots and airport workers – will need to be fully vaccinated by 15 November 2021 and the remainder of employees by 31 March 2022.
The airline says there will be exemptions for those unable to be vaccinated for documented medical reasons, but this is expected to be very rare.
The policy follows consultation with Qantas and Jetstar employees, including a survey sent to 22,000 people to seek their views on vaccination.
The national carrier says the 12,000 responses received makes it one of the biggest single surveys on this topic in Australia.
The results showed that of those who responded:
- 89 per cent had already been vaccinated or are planning to be.
- 4 per cent were unwilling or unable to get the jab.
- Around three-quarters think it should be a requirement for all employees to be vaccinated and would be concerned if other employees in the workplace weren’t vaccinated.
In a separate survey of more than 1000 Qantas customers, 92 per cent said they expect Qantas crew to be fully vaccinated.
Announcing the policy, Qantas Group CEO Alan Joyce said: “Having a fully vaccinated workforce will safeguard our people against the virus but also protect our customers and the communities we fly 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.
“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,” Mr Joyce said.
“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.
“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.
Qantas says 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.
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.
Multiple airlines around the world have already also made it a requirement.
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