Southwest Airlines is giving fully vaccinated staff 16 hours extra pay - and cutting special sick pay for unvaccinated workers who catch COVID-19

·2 min read
A gate agent wears a Southwest Airlines mask
Southwest Airlines is boosting incentives to encourage staff to get vaccinated. Lucy Nicholson/Reuters
  • Southwest Airlines is giving staff 16 hours extra pay if they show proof they're fully vaccinated.

  • Southwest said flight attendants and pilots would receive pay for 13 trip segments, per CNBC.

  • The airline is also cutting special sick pay for unvaccinated people who catch COVID-19.

  • See more stories on Insider's business page.

Southwest Airlines is boosting incentives for staff to get COVID-19 vaccines.

The airline is giving fully vaccinated staff 16 hours extra pay if they show proof of vaccination before November 15, according to a company memo sent Wednesday, first reported by CNBC, The Dallas Morning News, and others.

Southwest confirmed this to Insider, saying that it would offer these members of staff "roughly two days of pay."

Southwest said in the memo that flight attendants and pilots, who aren't paid hourly, would instead receive pay for 13 trip segments, per CNBC.

The airline also confirmed to Insider that it would cut quarantine pay protections for unvaccinated people who catch the coronavirus after November 16.

The protections gave employees full pay for up to 10 days if they were exposed to or contracted COVID-19 on the job, per Bloomberg.

Unvaccinated workers would still be able to use normal sick pay, the airline said in the memo, per CNBC.

"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 said in the memo, per CNBC.

Alaska Airlines, Delta Airlines, and American Airlines have already announced similar moves.

CNBC reported that Southwest told staff the new policies were "unrelated" to the vaccination rules President Joe Biden announced September 9, which would require businesses with more than 100 employees to mandate vaccines or weekly testing.

In August, United Airlines became the first US airline to mandate vaccines for all employees.

Other airlines, including Delta, Alaska, and Horizon, are only requiring the vaccine for new hires, while encouraging existing staff to get a shot with perks, such as bonuses.

Delta said in August that workers who don't get vaccinated would have to pay $200 extra a month for health insurance. The airline said that each worker who was hospitalized with the virus cost it an average of $50,000.

Delta said last week that 20% of its unvaccinated workers chose to get the vaccine within two weeks of it announcing the insurance surcharge.

Just under a quarter of adults in the US are yet to get their first dose of the vaccine, according to CDC data.

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