John Lewis has told staff they will get full sick pay regardless of their Covid vaccination status, saying that it doesn’t “believe it’s right” to treat jabbed and unjabbed workers differently.
The retailer’s high-street rivals including Next, Ikea and Ocado are among the companies that have introduced sickness policies that differentiate between vaccinated and unvaccinated employees who have to self-isolate.
However in a blogpost on LinkedIn, John Lewis’s group operations director, Andrew Murphy, told its 70,000-strong workforce: “We’re not going to make any change of this type.” He added: “We just don’t believe it’s right to create a link between a partner’s vaccination status and the pay they receive.”
He said the company – which is owned by its employees, called partners, who receive an annual profit share – was “hugely supportive of the UK vaccination programme” and had given staff time off to get their jabs.
“We cast no judgment on the decisions of any other organisation; in fact we’ve enjoyed how united businesses – retailers especially – have been in the face of these huge corporate and societal challenges,” Murphy said.
“However, when life increasingly seems to present opportunities to create division – and with hopes rising that the pandemic phase of Covid may be coming to an end – we’re confident that this is the right approach for us.”
Current rules in all UK nations now make a clear distinction in self-isolation requirements for vaccinated and unvaccinated people if they come into contact with someone who has tested positive for Covid. In all four nations the unvaccinated must self-isolate for 10 days even if they do not test positive for the virus. This requirement does not apply for people who are fully vaccinated.
Unvaccinated workers at Next and Ikea are only eligible for statutory sick pay – which is set at £96.35 a week – during their 10 days of isolation, unless there are mitigating circumstances. This compares with weekly pay of more than £400 before tax for an average store worker at Ikea.
The supermarket chain Morrisons announced in September that it was cutting sick pay during self-isolation for its unvaccinated workers, as part of a move to cut its pandemic-related costs.