Sick Pay and Unvaccinated Employees
As restrictions lift and mask wearing gets put to one side in England and Wales. What are the implications for employers with regards to sick pay when unvaccinated staff phone in sick with COVID symptoms or have to isolate because they have tested positive?
A lot of national employers have stated that they will not pay company sick pay and only offer Statutory Sick Pay (SSP) for unvaccinated staff who have to isolate. Even now the isolation period has been reduced when staff are off ill with COVID it does have implications for many workforces when staff cannot work from home due to the nature of their occupation.
Morrisons sick pay for unvaccinated
Morrisons, Ikea and Next have all been reported as stating they will cut sick pay for unvaccinated staff unless there are mitigating circumstances and they will now only receive Statutory Sick Pay.
Self-isolation rules have changed and vaccinated staff who come into contact with someone who has tested positive, but who are not unwell themselves no longer have to isolate and as such they are not a difficulty for employers, many of whom have suffered staff shortages recently. But this is not the same with unvaccinated staff who still have to isolate.
Head of Employment Law at Pearson Solicitors, Susan Mayall, said:
“As the pandemic has evolved so too has the way employers have had to deal with it. Many of my clients have been under pressure with staffing shortages which can not only affect production and the way they run their businesses, but it also affects their bottom line.
As employment law solicitors we have throughout the pandemic tried to keep our clients up to date with all the changes as they occur and have shared with them options such as vaccine policies, implications surrounding COVID passports and GDPR, sick leave rules and regulations and contractual entitlements,”
Some clients have come to us asking if they now need a specific vaccination policy moving forward. They could use such a policy to explain their approach, outline the sick pay rules and it helps them explain how they will deal with things moving forward. It could also be a useful tool when handling workplace disputes regarding vaccination.
Sick pay entitlement
However, consideration needs to be given to whether or not company sick pay is a contractual right or whether it is at the employer’s discretion. If sick pay is contractual it depends upon the terms of the employment contract consultation may be required prior to an employer making any changes.
“This April sees mandatory vaccination frontline health and social care workers in England and we could see a whole other group of employers following suit.
As always with the pandemic we know that the rules keep changing and the advice is continuingly being updated,” added Susan.
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Please note that the information and opinions contained in this article are not intended to be comprehensive, nor to provide legal advice. No responsibility for its accuracy or correctness is assumed by Pearson Solicitors and Financial Advisers Ltd or any of its members or employees. Professional legal advice should be obtained before taking, or refraining from taking, any action as a result of this article.