Furniture retailer Ikea has cut sick pay for unvaccinated UK staff who are forced to self-isolate because of close contact with someone with Covid-19, it has emerged.
Unvaccinated workers at Ikea are only eligible for statutory sick pay of £96.35 a week during 10 days of isolation, compared with weekly pay of more than £400 before tax for an average worker on the shop floor.
However, managers at the retailer, which employs 10,000 staff in the UK, will consider mitigating circumstances.
Some employers have experimented with incentives for workers to get vaccinated, including free time off during work hours, but Ikea and utility company Wessex Water, have joined supermarket Morrisons in imposing a financial cost on those without an exemption who decline to be vaccinated.
People in England who are fully vaccinated – with at least two doses of most of the approved vaccines – are not required to self-isolate if they have been in close contact with someone infected with Covid-19. However, unvaccinated people contacted through the government’s test-and-trace system must still self-isolate by law. Other nations of the UK have set similar rules.
Ikea’s policy was first introduced in September, while Wessex Water will implement the cut on Monday. The Mail on Sunday first reported the policies.
Wessex Water, which serves 2.8 million customers in the South West of England, has taken action after enduring record Covid-19-related absences during the past week. Workers self-isolating because they are infected with Covid-19 will still be paid their full wage.
An Ikea spokesperson said: “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.”
A Wessex Water spokesperson said: “The vast majority of our workforce has been vaccinated and it’s important as a company providing essential services with key-worker employees [that] the remainder get vaccinated to protect themselves, customers and their colleagues. To make it easy for our staff, vaccine appointments can be booked in work time.
“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.”
Wessex Water said that throughout the pandemic it had not furloughed staff, and anyone who had to self-isolate after contracting Covid received full pay.
In some countries, including the US, companies have insisted that staff receive coronavirus vaccines or else pay monthly fees, in the case of Delta Air Lines, or even lose their jobs at employers such as United Airlines, tech company Google and Citigroup, one of the world’s largest banks. French president Emmanuel Macron has also pledged to “piss off” unvaccinated people (who are not exempt) by making daily life slightly more difficult for them.
Employment experts have suggested that “no jab, no job” policies would be difficult for companies in the UK to enforce because of stronger worker protections and rules against discrimination. However, UK care workers have been obliged to be vaccinated since November.