United Airlines announced on Thursday that employees who receive a religious or medical exemption from the mandatory COVID-19 vaccine will be placed on unpaid leave for an indefinite period, The Epoch Times reported.
Those employees who apply for a vaccine exemption but do not receive it within five weeks will “be separated from the company,” United said in a memo.
“Given our focus on safety and the steep increases in COVID infections, hospitalizations, and deaths, all employees whose request is approved will be placed on temporary, unpaid personal leave on October 2 while specific safety measures for unvaccinated employees are instituted,” United told workers.
United implemented a vaccine mandate in August.
The company’s decision to put exempt, unvaccinated employees on unpaid leave appears to be the strictest policy in the nation.
“We can no longer allow unvaccinated people back into the workplace until we better understand how they might interact with our customers and their vaccinated coworkers,” United said.
The Air Line Pilots Association and other worker unions in the industry did not comment on the policy and have not resisted vaccine mandates.
Roger Gannam, assistant vice president of legal affairs at Liberty Counsel, said United wants to make it financially unfeasible for employees to live with a vaccine exemption.
“It certainly appears to be a bullying tactic and a continuation of United’s policy of making a religious exemption as difficult as possible,” he told The Epoch Times.