Hundreds of WestJet employees suspended for not being fully vaccinated against COVID-19

WestJet has suspended about 300 of its employees who did not meet the company's deadline to be fully vaccinated against COVID-19 -- and the workers could be let go next month if their situation doesn't change.

Around 96 per cent of the company's 7,300 employees are fully vaccinated against the virus as Canada's transportation industry prepares for new federal rules requiring all employees and travellers to be fully vaccinated.

"We do have 300 employees who will be placed on an unpaid leave of absence for the month of November, which gives them the opportunity right up until November 30 to become compliant," said Richard Bartrem, WestJet's VP of Marketing Communications.

If those employees are not fully vaccinated by the end of this month, Bartrem said, they could lose their job.

The company's policy follows rules the federal government has set out for people looking to board a plane, train or a ship in Canada. Every traveller over the age of 12 will need to prove they have been fully vaccinated.

TRANSITION PERIOD

There will be a transition period until Nov.30 allowing people who may be in the process of being vaccinated to show proof of a valid COVID-19 molecular test instead.

The antigen tests will no longer be accepted as an alternative after Nov. 29.

"So, really, the entire ecosystem is now a safe environment and you know that those people who are moving through it have those vaccinations and that will get people traveling with confidence once again," Bartrem told CTV Calgary.