SINGAPORE: All Jetstar Asia employees will be required to be vaccinated against COVID-19, the carrier announced on Wednesday (Aug 18).
These employees must be fully vaccinated by Oct 1 as part of Jetstar Asia’s “commitment to safety”, said the airline.
The carrier said in a media statement that the requirement was “in line with the guidance by the Singapore government”.
“With almost 100 per cent of Jetstar Asia team members already vaccinated, the majority support the idea of the COVID-19 vaccine being a requirement for work as it offers strong protection against the virus and also protects their families and their local community,” added the airline.
In an advisory issued on Jul 2, the Ministry of Manpower (MOM) said that employers should not make COVID-19 vaccination mandatory, in line with Singapore’s national vaccination policy.
Employers can “strongly encourage and facilitate” all their medically eligible employees to get vaccinated, such as by granting paid time-off to do so, said MOM.
“Employees who decline vaccination should not be penalised such as having their employment terminated on the ground of declining vaccination,” added the ministry.
In the same advisory, MOM said that there is a “small and exceptional number of employment settings” where some employees may be exposed to a higher risk of COVID-19 infection.
Examples of such jobs or settings include aircrew, laboratory employees working on COVID-19 and frontline maritime employees.
Employers may require COVID-19 vaccination as a company policy for these “higher risk employment settings”, said MOM, adding that a key consideration is that these people work in an environment that exposes them to a “significantly higher risk” of COVID-19 than in the general community.
If an employee declines to be vaccinated, MOM said employers should redeploy the worker “to another job with lower risk of COVID-19 infection”. This job must also be commensurate with the employee’s experience and skills, as per existing redeployment policies within the organisation.
In response to CNA’s queries, a Jetstar Asia spokesperson said that the airline’s corporate employees, who are based at Changi Airport, work closely with others in the office.
“There are often a lot of people in our buildings,” the spokesperson added.
“There is also quite a lot of interaction between our office-based employees and our frontline employees, so it is important to implement this across the board.”
If employees are unable to get the vaccine because they have a medical contraindication, Jetstar Asia will “look at whether there are alternative measures that can be implemented that will allow them to continue to work safely”.
“If employees have concerns about getting vaccinated for other medical reasons, they will be managed on a case-by-case basis, in line with the Ministry of Manpower’s guidelines,” the spokesperson added.
The airline did not respond to a question on what will happen to members of staff who decide not to take the vaccine due to non-medical reasons.
Jetstar Asia’s CEO Bara Pasupathi said that having a fully vaccinated workforce “will provide one of the strongest layers of protection against the serious health impacts of this virus, while also helping Singapore open up to international travel again”.
“Given the potential for the virus to spread, having a fully vaccinated team helps to safeguard our customers, our people and the communities we fly to,” he added.
Jetstar Asia is the budget arm of Australian airline Qantas, which on Wednesday also announced that it would make COVID-19 vaccines mandatory for staff.