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Covid: Can your employer cut your sick pay if you’re unvaccinated?


Some companies have changed their sick pay policies for unvaccinated staff (Picture: Getty)

With Covid-19 infection rates still high, many of us face the risk of coming into contact with someone with the virus.

But while fully vaccinated people no longer need to self-isolate after someone they’ve been in contact with tests positive, it’s a different story for those without the jab.

Anyone unvaccinated is still required to self-isolate for 10 full days after their date of exposure to someone with Covid-19.

For those who can’t work from home, this means missing nearly two weeks of work.

Now several organisations, including IKEA and Next, have said they will no longer give sick pay to unvaccinated staff forced to self isolate because of Covid exposure.

Both companies will, however, issue sick pay to unvaccinated workers who test positive for the virus.

But what are your rights if you don’t have the jab, and can you still get sick pay? Read on to find out more.

Can my employer cut my sick pay if I’m unvaccinated?

If you receive contractual sick pay, where your company pays their own rate of sick pay that is more than the statutory rate, then your exact rights will depend on your contract.

There is no government requirement for your company to pay this if you are self-isolating.

But Acas, an independent public body that offers free advice to resolve workplace disputes, said that any changes to a contract should be agreed by both the employer and employee or worker.

It’s best to check your contract you signed with your employer (Picture: Ezra Bailey/Getty)

They also advised that a trade union or other employee representatives will sometimes need to be consulted to resolve these matters.

Your employer may have written in your contract the right to withdraw sick pay if there is a mitigating circumstance, such as an injury sustained from a dangerous sport.

It’s best to check your contract and discuss with your employer if there are any ambiguities.

Acas adviser Gary Wedderburn said: ‘An employer should consult widely with their staff about any proposed changes to existing contracts otherwise they could find themselves liable to legal action over a breach of contract or a discrimination claim.’

You can find further free employment rights advice from Citizens Advice and Acas.

Am I still entitled to statutory sick pay?

Statutory sick pay (SSP) is the minimum amount that employers must pay to their workers when they need to take time off work with illness.

If you have been told to self-isolate because of coronavirus, you are still legally entitled to receive SSP as long as you aren’t self-employed.

Check the full SSP criteria on gov.uk.

HMRC are responsible for the legal rules around sick pay, and there is no requirement that says you cannot receive this because you are unvaccinated.

If you can’t work from home while self-isolating you might be entitled to statutory sick pay (Picture: Getty)

What other grants am I entitled to if I’m self-isolating?

If you’re self-isolating, you can also check if you can get a self-isolation payment from your local council.

You might also be eligible for the £500 Test and Trace Support Payment if you’re on a low income and need to self isolate, which does not specify that you need to be vaccinated to receive it.

What if I have a medical exemption from the vaccine?

Acas told Metro.co.uk that this would once again depend on the terms of an employee’s contract.

Their advice is if a staff member is genuinely medically exempt then they should talk to their employer as there may be valid reasons such as a medical exemption due to a disability or health condition.

Mr Wedderburn said: ‘Companies that wish to change their sick pay policies for unvaccinated staff will need to ensure that it does not result in a change to staff terms and conditions or unfairly discriminate against certain groups such as those who may be medical exempt from vaccination due to a disability.’

Getting the vaccine offers the best protection from serious illness for yourself and others (Picture: Getty)

Vaccines are the best way to protect yourself and others from becoming seriously ill or dying from Covid-19, and having long-term side effects.

Research has also shown that vaccines help reduce your risk of catching or spreading the virus and they protect against new Covid-19 variants, including Omicron.

The Covid-19 vaccines approved for use in the UK have met strict standards of safety, quality and effectiveness.

You can find more information on the NHS website about how to book a Covid-19 vaccine.


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