Back to News

Unvaccinated workers face cut in sick pay

Ikea has joined an expanding list of companies cutting sick pay for unvaccinated workers taking time off because of Covid.

Unvaccinated Ikea workers who have mitigating circumstances for not having the jab, such as pregnancy or medical reasons, will remain eligible for full company sick pay. However, workers without mitigating circumstances could now receive just £96 a week minimum Statutory Sick Pay. This could amount to a significant loss of earnings as the average Ikea wage across its 10,000 workforce is between £400 and £450. Workers are also entitled to enhanced sick pay.

The furniture giant said that it had not furloughed staff throughout the pandemic and anyone self-isolating had received full pay. However, it now needed to adapt its policy to reflect changing circumstances.

Wessex Water also brought in changes to its sick pay rules this week. Employees who have not had at least one Covid-19 vaccination, (or have an appointment to be vaccinated) and do not have a valid medical reason, will only get Statutory Sick Pay if they have to self-isolate after being in contact with someone who has tested positive for Covid.

Wessex Water commented: “The vast majority of our workforce has been vaccinated and it’s important as a company providing essential services with key worker employees, the remainder get vaccinated to protect themselves, customers and their colleagues.

“Absences due to Covid have doubled in the last week, so we need everyone to be available so we can continue to provide uninterrupted essential water and sewerage services.”

Last year, supermarket giant, Morrisons changed its sick pay terms and several companies have introduced a “no jab, no job” policy.

Delta Airlines have introduced a policy where unvaccinated workers are required to pay a surcharge on their membership of the company healthcare plan.

Sarah Naylor, specialist employment law solicitor at Atherton Godfrey, commented: “In the midst of rising prices and staffing shortages through the more infectious Omicron strain, it is tempting to take a tougher approach and cut sick pay. However, I would advise companies to exercise caution when changing terms and conditions of employment as it is very easy to cross into discrimination territory. Before implementing any significant change it is always wise to take legal advice – a small amount of advice at the beginning of the process could save many thousands of pounds later.”

The isolation rules in England state that those who are double jabbed do not have to self-isolate if they have been in close contact with someone who has Covid. The unvaccinated who have been contacted by NHS test and trace must still self-isolate by law.

According to the Prime Minister, the data continues to show that the ones most seriously affected by Omicron are those who are not vaccinated. See the latest government guidance here – Coronavirus (COVID-19): guidance and support.

If you need legal support with any employment law matter, please contact our friendly professionals on 01302 320621.

Get in touch today