Qantas has confirmed that all of its employees will be required to be vaccinated against Covid-19 in the coming months.
The carrier recently called on authorities to make vaccination a requirement for all aviation workers in Australia, and it has now introduced its own rules, which mean that all frontline employees (including cabin crew, pilots and airport workers) must be fully vaccinated by November 15, 2021, with the remainder of staff having until March 31, 2022 to get the jab.
There will be exemptions for employees who are unable to be vaccinated “for documented medical reasons”, which Qantas said “is expected to be very rare”.
The new policy follows consultation with Qantas and Jetstar employees, including a survey sent to 22,000 staff, which received 12,000 responses. The results showed that 89 per cent of respondents had already been vaccinated or were planning to be, with just 4 per cent “unwilling or unable to get the jab”.
Around three quarters of staff said that they think it should be a requirement to be vaccinated “and would be concerned if other employees in the workplace weren’t vaccinated”.
The carrier also published the results of a recent survey of over 1,000 customers, with 92 per cent stating that they expect Qantas crew to be fully vaccinated.
Announcing the new 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.
“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.”
Qantas said it would hold further discussions with employees, health and safety representatives and unions over the coming weeks on the detail of the policy, including how medical exemptions will be applied.