In a move that is sure to spark commentary, Delta Airlines has stated that beginning on November 1, any employees who choose to remain unvaccinated will pay approximately $200 more per month to continue on their employer-sponsored health insurance plan. This number, of course, varies depending on the coverage and plan selected. It will also limit how many sick days unvaccinated employees are eligible to use should they contract COVID-19.

Additional Guidelines

Delta does not stop there either. They have also stated that unvaccinated employees will be subject to weekly testing. For employees in the US, where infection rates remain high, weekly testing will go into effect beginning September 12. On top of this, employees who test positive will be required to remain home while they are sick. As previously stated, there is a limit to the number of sick days unvaccinated employees will be eligible to use. Under current legislation, Delta employees who contract the virus are provided with so-called “COVID pay protection” for 14 days before they have to use their regular sick days. This legislation ends on September 30, at which point Delta will only provide COVID Pay Protection to fully vaccinated employees.

Mask Mandates

All unvaccinated Delta employees must wear a face mask in all indoor areas. Mask mandates for air travel remain in effect for everyone until January 2022. That is unless Delta chooses to extend the mandate at some point.

Financial Incentives

In a statement to CCN by Delta CEO Ed Bastian, he states, “While we can be proud of our 75% vaccination rate, the aggressiveness of the variant means we need to get many more of our people vaccinated, and as close to 100% as possible”. These measures add an additional financial incentive to get the vaccine. It also helps to offset some of the cost to the company should any unvaccinated employee contract the virus and require medical intervention. The company continues to struggle to recover after the 2020 shutdowns and loss of revenue.

Broader Implications

According to Delta, since the start of the latest variant, only unvaccinated employees contracted the virus. These measures provide a level of personal choice regarding the vaccine while still providing a greater incentive to get vaccinated. This is a step further than some rival airlines who have gone as far as to mandate vaccination for all employees. Two other airlines, Southwest and American, have also opted not to mandate vaccination fully.

Making Your Choice

Mandates are something that each employer must weigh out for themselves. Relying on the example of others is not the best move. Consulting with a business attorney regarding the legality of such mandates and what is appropriate for each specific business is essential. What works for one company may not for another. In some polls, up to 50% of employees said they would quit their jobs if their employer instituted a vaccine mandate. Working with legal counsel, company employees, and the company’s values is the best guide for what will work for each business.