Southwest Airlines said Thursday that employees will not get fired if they do not receive the coronavirus vaccine, stating that it "doesn't make sense."
The airline "encourages every employee" to get vaccinated. Southwest does not want to "lose any employee" result of President Biden's government vaccine mandate.
Southwest Airlines said earlier this month that it needs to impose immunizations to comply with new Biden administration standards requiring companies with federal contracts to have fully vaccinated employees. Workers must be immunized by Dec. 8, according to Southwest. They can still request an exemption for medical or religious reasons.
Despite the deadline, Southwest CEO Gary Kelly stated on the company's third-quarter results call that no one will be laid off on December 9, even if the airline is not "completely in compliance."
"We're not going to fire someone for not getting vaccinated," Kelly added. "How we deal with folks who don't get vaccinated or don't seek accommodations is something we'll have to figure out, and we're working with the government on it."
According to Kelly, the airline is currently attempting to strike a compromise between keeping its status as a federal contractor and caring for its personnel.
"It doesn't make sense that we wouldn't respect that and find a way to collaborate with our people on it," he continued.
Kelly does not want "people to be afraid that they will not be able to work or have a job," especially as the holiday season approaches.