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Qantas and Jetstar mandates jabs for frontline staff

Airlines mandates jabs for frontline staff
Photo: Qantas mandates jabs for frontline staff
Qantas and Jetstar pilots, cabin crew and airport employees will need to be fully vaccinated against COVID-19 by mid-November.

Qantas will require its pilots, cabin crew and airport staff to be fully vaccinated against COVID-19 within three months.

Frontline employees across Qantas and its subsidiary Jetstar have until November 15 to be fully jabbed.

The deadline for other workers, such as those in head office, to receive both doses is March 31 next year.

Qantas boss Alan Joyce had called on the federal government to mandate the jab for the aviation industry but is not waiting for it to move.

"Having a fully vaccinated workforce will safeguard all of our people against the virus and also protect our customers and the large amount of communities that we fly to," Mr Joyce told reporters on Wednesday.
"We believe we have an obligation of duty of care for our customers and employees to make the workplace as safe as possible."

Mandatory jabs are increasingly becoming a global standard and Mr Joyce expects more Australian companies to adopt it.

Qantas will grant exemptions for employees who provide documented medical proof as to why they cannot be vaccinated.

But this is expected to be a rare occurrence.

A company survey which 12,000 staff responded to showed 89 per cent had already been jabbed or made an appointment.

Of those, 60 per cent were fully vaccinated, 77 per cent had received one dose and 12 per cent were booked in or planned to do so.

About three-quarters of people believed the jab should be mandatory.

Just four per cent of people were unwilling or unable to be vaccinated, with seven per cent undecided or preferring not to say.

"If other employees decided that they're not taking the jab, they are deciding, I think, that aviation isn't the area for them," Mr Joyce said.

"We will have limited redeployment opportunities given that the organisation has significantly shrunk in the last year or so because of COVID."

Qantas is set to require international travellers to show proof of vaccination when people can fly overseas again.

No decision has been made about domestic passengers.

The airline is talking to its contractors who are interested in mandating jabs, but says it's a decision for those organisations.

The federal government does not intend to mandate vaccinations, with exceptions for specific industries including aged care.

Prime Minister Scott Morrison commended Qantas for the way it went about requiring vaccinations, but maintained the decision was one for individual companies.

"They (Qantas) have a reasonable position to be able to make this request and they've gone about it, I think, in a very engaged way," he said.

"They've come up ... with a fair and well intentioned direction."

The Transport Workers Union criticised Qantas for making making the announcement without a plan to ensure employees could secure a jab.

"Qantas' own survey shows vaccine hesitancy is extremely low, yet Qantas has pushed ahead with another unilateral decision that will heap unnecessary stress onto workers," TWU national secretary Michael Kaine said.

NSW, South Australia and New Zealand already require aviation workers supporting international flights to be vaccinated.

Canned food producer SPC is mandating jabs for employees from the end of November.

Westpac and the Commonwealth Bank are rolling out in-house vaccine programs to staff.


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