Are Unvaccinated Staff Told to Self-Isolate Entitled to Enhanced Company Sick Pay?

31 Jan

You may have seen recent news stories about companies such as Ikea and Morrisons telling unvaccinated UK staff who have been forced to self-isolate because they have come into close contact with someone with COVID-19 that they will not be entitled to enhanced Company Sick Pay.

Many workers across the country have enjoyed full pay after being told that they are required to isolate because they have come into close contact with someone who has tested positive for COVID-19. It seems that employers are now starting to tell those workers who are unvaccinated that they will no longer be entitled to these enhancements.

Ikea have said that they will consider mitigating circumstances, which they will presumably use to ensure that staff are not discriminated against because, for instance, they have a disability that means they cannot be vaccinated.

Applying a policy such as this is possible, but does come with potential pitfalls. As well as ensuring you are not discriminating against workers, you will also need to ensure that you are not in breach of any terms of the workers’ contracts (such as the entitlement to sick pay, for instance), that you have allowed yourself sufficient discretion in order to remove the entitlement and that you are treating all unvaccinated staff the same (other than those with mitigating circumstances).

In practice, staff who have enhanced sick pay entitlements and are forced to isolate could simply avoid telling their employer that they have been required to isolate and instead tell them that they are ill. This would mean that their sick pay would then kick in and they would therefore receive this payment whilst they isolate. This is especially easy at the moment given the recent extension to the period of time that staff can be off sick without a fit note and reductions in the time people now need to self-isolate.

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