Covid 19 cDelta outbreak: Virgin Australia moves towards mandatory jabs for all staff

Virgin Australia is joining a growing number of airlines making Covid-19 vaccinations mandatory for all staff.

The airline – which has suspended flying to New Zealand – said today it was starting consultation with about 6500 staff and unions over its proposal to require jabs for them all, on the basis that vaccination is necessary to keep their people, customers and the wider Australian community safe.

Under the proposed policy, frontline team members will be required to be vaccinated byNovember 15 and office based staff by March 31 next year.

Earlier this month Qantas announced a ”no jab – no job” policy and other airlines including United and Cathay Pacific have brought it in.Air NZ said it already had high and growing rates of vaccination among its frontline staff and didn’t have plans to make it mandatory.

Delta Air Lines will charge employees on the company health plan US$200 ($280) a month if they fail to get vaccinated against Covid-19.

Virgin Australia said following consultation, and after it have considered feedback from employees and unions, a final policy will be announced in the coming weeks.

The airline said it understood some staff had concerns and questions and has established an education campaign to assure and inform as many employees as possible.

Virgin Australia chief executive Jayne Hrdlicka said that recent events have demonstrated that it only takes one person to create a knock-on effect which creates significant impacts for our employees and the community more broadly.

“Virgin Australia is not alone as a business in being deeply affected by the events of recent months. It is clear that vaccination is the only way back to normal freedom of movement and the richness in life that comes from spending meaningful, in person time with family, friends and colleagues,” she said.

Vaccination was the only solution to the situation Australia currently found itself in.

Nearly 34 per cent of the Australian population aged over 16 was fully vaccinated, according to the most recent figures.

“The majority of our team at Virgin Australia are already vaccinated, and we will be listening to our team members to ensure we find the best fit policy for our organisation. We will now commence discussing the proposed vaccination requirement in detail with our team through our internal safety committees, unions and other appropriate forums,” said Hrdlicka.

“We trust medical experts, their advice and the evidence that shows that vaccines save lives and reduce hospitalisation rates,” she said.

“Virgin Australia recognises the critical imperative to get the broader community vaccinated and will launch a competition this week to encourage as many people as we can to roll up their sleeves. We are also supportive of government-led measures to ensure travellers are vaccinated.”

A recent survey of Virgin Australia team members found that over 75 per cent of the frontline workforce have received at least one dose of a Covid-19 vaccine, with another 9 per cent registered for vaccination.

In relation to office-based workforce, who do not get the same priority access to vaccines as frontline staff, more than 56 per cent have had at least one dose, with another 27 per cent registered to be vaccinated.

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