The Qantas Group will require all employees to be fully vaccinated against COVID-19 as part of the national carrier’s commitment to safety.
Frontline employees – including cabin crew, pilots and airport workers – will need to be fully vaccinated by 15 November 2021 and the remainder of employees by 31 March 2022. There will be exemptions for those who are unable for documented medical reasons to be vaccinated, which is expected to be very rare.
The policy follows consultation with Qantas and Jetstar employees including a survey sent to 22,000 people to seek their views on vaccination. The 12,000 responses received makes it one of the biggest single surveys on this topic in Australia. The results showed that of those who responded:
- 89 per cent had already been vaccinated or are planning to be.
- 4 per cent were unwilling or unable to get the jab.
- Around three-quarters think it should be a requirement for all employees to be vaccinated and would be concerned if other employees in the workplace weren’t vaccinated.
Thousands of aviation workers supporting international flights in New South Wales, South Australia and New Zealand are already required to be vaccinated by those jurisdictions. Multiple airlines around the world have also made it a requirement.
Announcing the 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,” Mr Joyce said.
“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,” added Mr Joyce.
Further discussions will take place with employees, their health and safety representatives and unions over the coming weeks on the detail of the policy, including how medical exemptions will be applied.
In a separate survey of more than 1000 Qantas customers, 92 per cent said they expect Qantas crew to be fully vaccinated.
QANTAS GROUP EMPLOYEE SURVEY ON VACCINATIONS
Almost 12,000 responses to survey, representing 60 per cent of Australian-based Qantas Group employees.
- 89 per cent have had at least one vaccine dose or plan to be vaccinated
- 77 per cent have had at least one dose
- 60 per cent are fully vaccinated
- 12 per cent are booked or planning to book
- 7 per cent undecided or preferred not to say
- 4 per cent are unwilling or unable to get the vaccine
Verbatim comments from employees in support of vaccinations:
- It should be compulsory as a condition for employment.
- I don’t want to work with anyone that has not had it. Why should I come to work and have other co-workers that come make me sick?
- My employer has a duty of care. All employees need to be safe in the workplace. All employees walk past each other. We all have to be safe.
- It is not something I would have normally done but happy to do for a safe workplace and if it keeps me and my family safe.
- I fully support everyone being vaccinated so we can open the domestic and international borders again.