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Can sick pay be withdrawn for unvaccinated employees?

It has recently been reported that IKEA along with a number of other large employers have implemented a policy to stop paying company sick pay to unvaccinated staff who are required to self-isolate due to coming in to contact with a positive case of Covid-19.

At the moment, employees in England who are fully vaccinated are not required to self-isolate if they have been in close contact with someone infected with Covid-19 and can therefore carry-on working. However, unvaccinated employees must still self-isolate in these circumstances, as otherwise they are breaking the law. This has led to rising costs for employers who have to pay company sick pay for unvaccinated staff required to self-isolate.

It has been reported that IKEA’s unvaccinated workers, who do not have any mitigating circumstances and are required to isolate as they have been identified as a close contact with a positive case, now only receive Statutory Sick Pay (‘SSP’), as opposed to company sick pay which they were previously entitled to.

Comment

Employers need to consider their existing policies and procedures to determine what pay employees are entitled to when they are self-isolating. If entitlement company sick pay is contractual, it may not be straightforward to change terms and conditions of employment, as the collective consultation obligations under the Trade Union & Labour Relations (Consolidation) Act 1992 may be triggered. Employers should therefore seek advice before implementing any such policy change to avoid any potential claims being brought. It is also worth noting that whilst the intention behind any such policy change may be to encourage staff to get vaccinated and therefore reduce staff absences, employees may be reluctant to test themselves or follow the self-isolation regulations if it means that they will suffer financially as a result.

If you have any queries about company sick pay policies, SSP or any other queries, please get in touch with one of our team for more details on 01228 552600 or 01524 548494.

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