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Southwest Airlines offers extra pay to vaccinated employees

Southwest employees who don't get vaccinated will miss out on extra money and be ineligible for quarantine pay if they are exposed to COVID.

WASHINGTON — Southwest Airlines is adding a pay perk for employees who get fully vaccinated from COVID-19 while taking away another for those who don't.

"We will be offering roughly two days of pay to Employees who are, or become, fully vaccinated for COVID-19 and share their vaccination status with the airline by November 15," an airline spokesperson said by email.

That is in line with a report from CNBC, which said it obtained an internal memo that fully vaccinated workers would get 16 hours of pay while flight crews would be paid the equivalent of 13 trip segments.

Southwest said it will also continue its quarantine pay program for vaccinated workers. Bloomberg reports the program offers full pay for up to 10 days a worker is in quarantine if the worker was exposed to COVID-19 on the job. But employees who are not fully vaccinated by Nov. 16 will no longer be eligible and will have to use their remaining sick time or personal time off instead.

President Joe Biden issued an order last week to require all U.S. employers with 100 or more employees to require the vaccine. According to CNBC, Southwest says this move is not in response to Biden's directive, but that the company was prepared to comply with any rule from the U.S. Department of Labor.

Southwest joins Delta Air Lines in using financial incentives to entice workers to get the vaccine.

Delta, which is requiring new hires to be fully vaccinated, is adding a $200-per-month health insurance surcharge for employees who do not get inoculated. It is also removing them from the quarantine pay program. Henry Ting, Chief Health Officer for Delta, said last week that 4,000 employees have gotten the vaccine since the surcharge was announced. About 16,000 remained unvaccinated.

Others including American and Alaska Airlines say they will cut off paid leave for unvaccinated workers who contract COVID-19. Alaska said it will also pay employees $200 for proof of vaccination.

United Airlines has laid down the strictest rules in the U.S. airline industry. Employees face a Sept. 27 deadline for getting vaccinated or potentially lose their jobs. The airline said last week workers whose bids for exemptions based on medical reasons or religious beliefs are denied will get five more weeks to get vaccinated.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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