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Ikea cut pay of unvaccinated staff self-isolating

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Ikea cut pay of unvaccinated staff self-isolating

News emerged this week that Ikea has cut the sick pay of unvaccinated staff who are forced to self-isolate.

Employment Solicitor Paul Burton takes a look at the story and discusses the ramifications for employers and employees.

Ikea cuts sick pay for unvaccinated staff who are forced to self-isolate

Many firms have introduced incentives to try and encourage their workers to get vaccinated. But companies such as Morrisons and Wessex Water have gone the other route, implementing financial restraints on the unvaccinated.

Ikea are the latest company to do so, with the furniture retailer cutting the sick pay of their unvaccinated staff who are forced to self-isolate due to Covid-19 exposure.

What is sick pay for the unvaccinated being cut to?

Ikea will be paying unvaccinated workers statutory sick pay, in such circumstances, which could be as little as £96.35 a week (The Statutory Sick Pay minimum).

This is a massive difference from the average £400 a week wage (before tax) for shop floor workers that the company normally pays.

Why have Ikea put this in place?

Ikea have likely introduced this penalty due to financial issues, as many companies have struggled with mass staff absences and rising costs.

As you could probably imagine, for firms where homeworking is not an option, paying staff during isolation can be a huge financial strain on a company.

And with the Omicron variant causing a peak in new cases, you can understand why companies will be wanting to take measures to cut costs.

Can employers cut the sick pay of unvaccinated employees?

Experienced solicitor and Employment Partner Paul Burton said: "Whether or not employers can cut sick pay easily will depend on the wording of the workers’ contracts. 

It may be the case that the contracts do allow the sick pay to be cut by saying any contractual sick pay, over the statutory amount, is discretionary. 

However, many contracts simply state a worker will be paid contractual sick pay for a certain period of time. If this is the case and the employer wants to cut this, then they will have to consult with the workers about the change. 

Ultimately, though, the employer will be able to cut sick pay if they follow a proper procedure."

Advice for unvaccinated employees who have had their sick pay cut

If the employer that you work for has or is looking to implement this rule, you may have questions regarding exemptions.

Ikea had this to say: “Fully vaccinated co-workers or those with mitigating circumstances will receive full pay for self-isolations.”

They are yet to clarify exactly what is meant by ‘mitigating circumstances’, but we’d imagine it probably includes people who are unable to get the vaccine due to medical reasons.

The spokesperson continued: "We appreciate that this is an emotive topic and all circumstances will be considered on a case by case basis, therefore anyone in doubt or concerned about their situation is encouraged to speak to their manager."

Should employers implement similar measures to Ikea?

Paul continued: "Other employers may be looking to do the same as Ikea, again probably for financial reasons. 

As highlighted above, the first thing to do is check the contractual wording and, in any event, ensure a proper procedure is undertaken.

In the end it will be a balance between the financial savings on the one hand and the potential damage to the morale of, and relations with, the workers on the other."

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