Ikea cut sick pay to unvaccinated employees, forcing them to isolate themselves

Russell Hotten
BBC News

Published
Image source, Getty Images

Ikea reduced sick pay to employees with Covid exposure who needed to be isolated and, in certain cases, for employees who tested positive.

Although the retail giant admitted it was an emotional topic, it said that its policy must adapt to changing conditions.

Wessex Water will implement sick pay reductions starting this week. In the US, several large companies have begun penalizing unjabbed employees.

This happens as companies struggle to cope with rising costs and mass staff absenteeism.

At Ikea unvaccinated workers who are required to isolate could now receive as little as £96.35 a week – the Statutory Sick Pay (SSP) minimum.

A worker who has not had their vaccinations and is positive for Covid can be denied full sick leave. However, the company stated that it will look at individual cases to decide if they should receive any additional sick pay.

Ikea claimed that infected workers would not be allowed to work if they were in the clear. They will then have to look over their absence records and make a decision about sick pay.

Average wages at Ikea are between about £400 and £450, depending on location and, as is the case at many companies, staff get enhanced sick pay. Mail first reported the news on Sunday.

Ikea, which employs about 10,000 people in the UK, said in a statement: “Fully vaccinated co-workers or those with mitigating circumstances will receive full pay for self-isolations. 

“Unvaccinated co-workers will be paid in line with our company absence policy for self-isolation, with close-contact isolation being paid at Statutory Sick Pay. 

We understand that this topic is emotional and will consider all situations individually. Therefore, anyone who is unsure or is concerned should speak with their manager.

  • The shortage of Covid employees will not abate in the New Year
  • Ikea raises prices because of supply shortage

England allows people to self-isolate who have received at least two doses of vaccine. Law requires that unvaccinated persons who are contacted via the government’s test-and trace system be kept isolated.

Many businesses complained of labour shortages through 2021. However, many are now experiencing widespread absences from the Omicron Covid strain.

Boris Johnson, the Prime Minister, stated Monday that Omicron data showed that Omicron was still affecting the most severely affected people.

Wessex Water is changing its rules regarding sick pay.

Employees without at least one Covid-19 vaccine – or who do not have a medical reason for not getting it – will only get statutory sick pay, unless they are required to be isolated due to contact with someone positive.

Wessex Water spokeswoman said that absences rose this year.

“Absences caused by Covid have increased by two-thirds in the past week. We need all to be present so that we can provide continuous essential water services and sewerage services.”

Legal Risks

Company claimed that it hadn’t furloughed employees during pandemics and that self-isolating workers had been paid full wages.

The sick pay terms for supermarket Morrisons were cut last year. Several other companies, such as Citigroup and banking giant Citigroup introduced “no jabs, no jobs” policies. Delta Airlines introduced a surcharge for unvaccinated employees as part of its healthcare program.

Ben Willmott from the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development, Head of Public Policy (CIPD), stated to the BBC there were pros and con’s with changing sick pay terms.

It could encourage staff to get vaccinated, but others might be less likely to test themselves or self-isolate because they could not afford time off work at the statutory rate of about £96.

Official guidance for his organisation did not differentiate between employees. The consequences of this could be complicated and may lead to legal complications.

He said that you would need to handle it individually because there are legal risks.

David Josephs (head of All Greens food retailer and importer) told BBC earlier this month that some staff were disregarding Covid rules because they had financial concerns.

“We are aware that many employees in this sector do not receive sick pay. “Ours do, but those on short-term contracts or minimum wage can’t afford to miss work,” he stated.

Sarah Ozanne of CMS is an employment lawyer. She also warns of complicated legal issues.

“This is the action [by Ikea]It seems to be more of an immediate reaction to staff shortages.

Employers should evaluate whether the actions they take are appropriate to achieve their goal of getting workers back to work.

Does your company offer sick leave for staff who have not been vaccinated? What do you think? Send an email [email protected].

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Source: BBC.com

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