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Hong Kong's largest airline clarified that the staff who were unable to provide proof of medical exemption in refusing to take the vaccine had been fired.

Cathay Pacific announced on Wednesday (8 September) that it has decided to "part ways," with a small number of flight crew who did not get vaccinated and couldn't produce a medical exemption in lieu.

“Today we decided to part company with a small number of aircrew who had decided not to receive either of the two available COVID-19 vaccines and had not provided proof of medical exemption,” Hong Kong’s largest airline said in a statement to SCMP.

The airline did not disclose the amount of employees that had been dismissed. It added that from September 1, all employees on Cathay Pacific flights have been fully inoculated. 

According to SCMP's reporting, the airline sent out letters to unvaccinated staff last week, asking why they had not been vaccinated yet or hadn't provided an explanation when asked previously by the company. “As a result, the company will now take steps to terminate your employment,” the letter said.

In a statement on Bloomberg Quint, Cathay Pacific shared: “It’s clear to us all now that COVID-19 is a terrible virus and that keeping our customers, communities, and families safe is of the utmost importance. Border controls around the world have dramatically reduced our ability to operate with unvaccinated aircrew.”

Meanwhile, the Staffs and Workers Union of Hong Kong Civil Airlines has sent a letter, along with other six trade unions of the aviation industry, to Augustus Tang, CEO of Cathay Pacific, urging Cathay Pacific to have flexibility for those who are not able to get vaccinated because of medical reasons. Secretary for Transport and Housing, Frank Chan Fan; Fred Lam Tin-fuk, Chief Executive Officer of Airport Authority Hong Kong; and Michael Luk, Hong Kong Federation of Trade Unions legislator have all been CC'd in the letter.

Human Resources Online has reached out to Cathay Pacific for further details and will update this story when provided. 

Last week Hong Kong's Chief Executive Carrie Lam urged private sector employers to mandate vaccines for their staff. Speaking to reporters, she said, "There is a common objective between the business world and the Hong Kong SAR Government - to increase the vaccination rate." 

The Hong Kong Government has already ordered all government employees to get vaccinated or fit the bill of regular testing themselves. The mandate extends to the civil service, education, and health sectors. The Airport authority announced similar regulations , saying that airport staff are to undergo mandatory vaccinations from 1 September and medical exemptions will no longer be accepted.

ALSO READ: Mandatory vaccinations for employees in Hong Kong: What employers can and cannot do

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