Qantas chief executive Alan Joyce has made no bones about his strong support of vaccinations against COVID-19.
As early as last year, he was one of the first airline bosses to come out and say that it would be a necessity for passengers to be vaccinated if they wanted to fly with Qantas and now he has followed through on that tough talk by making it a requirement for all staff to be vaccinated as well.
The Qantas Group has also set strict timelines that staff must meet to continue to work with the carrier, so that passengers can feel safe that they are protected on their flights.
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Frontline employees – including cabin crew, pilots and airport workers – will need to be fully vaccinated by 15 November 2021 and the remainder of Qantas’s employees by 31 March 2022.
Qantas explained that there would be some exemptions for those who are unable to be vaccinated for documented medical reasons, but that this was expected to be very rare.
The company’s vaccination policy came after consultation with Qantas and Jetstar employees, including a survey sent to all 22,000 members of staff.
The survey received around 12,000 responses and revealed that 89 per cent of staff had already been vaccinated or were planning to be, and that only 4 per cent were unwilling or unable to get the jab.
Around three-quarters of the respondents thought that it should be a requirement for all employees to be vaccinated and around the same number said they would be concerned if other employees in the workplace weren’t vaccinated.
A separate survey of more than 1000 Qantas customers found that 92 per cent said they expected all Qantas crew to be fully vaccinated before flying.
Vaccinations are already required for all staff working on international flights in New South Wales, South Australia and New Zealand and there are many airlines around the world that have also made staff vaccination a requirement of employment.
“Having a fully vaccinated workforce will safeguard our people against the virus but also protect our customers and the communities we fly to,” Mr Joyce said.
“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,” he 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.
“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,” Mr Joyce said.
“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.”
Would you feel more comfortable flying if you knew that everybody onboard was vaccinated? Would you feel uncomfortable flying with an airline that had not made this commitment? Why not share your thoughts in the comments section below?
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