No Jab, no Sick Pay?

Ikea this week announced a significant change in their Sick Pay policy that may mean that unvaccinated staff who need to self isolate will no longer receive enhanced pay, and will instead receive Statutory Sick Pay. This decision has been made in response to staff shortages, but builds on the earlier ‘no jab, no job‘ and ‘mandatory jab‘ conundrum currently being faced by employers.

Wessex Water and Morrisons have implemented similar changes, and several firms in the US have started to penalise workers who have not been vaccinated.

Whilst any business owner can appreciate the struggle employers such as Ikea are facing, with large numbers of its staff being unable to work, this decision brings its own complications.

  1. If staff can’t afford to miss out on the enhanced sick pay, will they test, or stay home if they test positive? If they don’t, the problem could just be enhanced as more employees fall sick.
  2. To change existing contract terms you have to go through a process of consultation with your team to change them. You cannot simply announce a decision!
  3. If there are mitigating reasons for an employee not to be vaccinated, you need to ensure you are not discriminating against them.

Wessex Water explained their decision as follows: ‘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.’

That makes perfect sense, and most business owners will empathise. As before though, our advice on this subject is to speak to your HR advisor!

You need to ensure you are fully informed about the options open to you, the risks you face and the decision that is best for your business and your circumstances.

If you don’t have an HR advisor who will look at your business and provide pragmatic advice, then please get in touch. We can introduce you to the team who kept us sane when we were a team of 17 in our last business.

Finally, you can see more about Ikea’s decision here.

 

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