By Chase Hagl
Delta Airlines Will Charge Unvaccinated Employees a $200 Monthly Surcharge
Delta Air Lines announced on Wednesday, August 25, that it will require unvaccinated employees to pay an additional $200 health care surcharge every month whilst remaining unvaccinated. The additional charge on employees’ health insurance premiums will go into effect on November 1st.
The memo addressed to employees from CEO Ed Bastian states the reason for the surcharge is the “high” cost of care for an employee with Covid-19, “The average hospital stay for COVID-19 has cost Delta $50,000 per person. This surcharge will be necessary to address the financial risk that the decision not to vaccinate is creating for our company. In recent weeks, since the rise of the B.1.617.2 variant, all Delta employees who have been hospitalized with COVID were not fully vaccinated.
This decision comes shortly after the company announced that all unvaccinated employees will also need to receive and provide proof of a negative Covid-19 test weekly. The policy will go into effect on September 12 and continue into the foreseeable future.
The company will also require that all unvaccinated employees wear masks at all indoor Delta settings. This is apart from the FAA mask mandate for all front-line employees at airports and onboard aircraft extending through early 2022.
In an attempt to get unvaccinated on board and those individuals who may be hesitant towards getting the vaccine, the memo states, “I know some of you may be taking a wait-and-see approach or waiting for full FDA approval. With this week’s announcement that the FDA has granted full approval for the Pfizer vaccine, the time for you to get vaccinated is now. We can be confident that the Pfizer vaccine is safe and effective, and has undergone the same rigorous review for other approved medications to treat cancer and heart disease, as well as other vaccines.”
Currently, the airline sits on a 75% vaccination rate of its employees. However the high vaccination rate has not meant lower case rates for its employees, hence the push to move closer to the 100 percent mark.
To keep their vaccination percentage up, the legacy carrier requires that all new hires be vaccinated in order to be employed by the company.
The implementation of the $200 surcharge isn’t the most extreme example of the push to get employees vaccinated that the industry has seen. As of August 6, United Airlines went as far as mandating the vaccine for its 67,000 US employees. Those not vaccinated by October 25 face the risk of termination.
United’s announcement was shortly followed by the ultra-low-cost carrier Frontier. Mandating that their employees must be vaccinated by October 1, or they will need to get frequently tested.
At the current rate and direction that some carriers are moving, it doesn’t seem like their intent is to “encourage” the vaccination for employees, rather to give their employees no other option than to get the vaccine or face termination. It likely won’t be long before Delta mandates the vaccine for its employees, leaving the unvaccinated with that risk of termination.