Morrisons, one of the UK’s ‘Big Four’ supermarkets, is set to cut sick pay for unvaccinated workers who need to self-isolate, in order to encourage vaccine uptake.
Morrisons has defended the decision, stating it was necessary to try and mitigate the ‘biblical costs’ of the pandemic and encourage vaccine uptake.
The pandemic and ensuing government restrictions resulted in reduced demand for food to go, fuel and café facilities – as such, the company’s pre-tax profit fell by more than a third in the 6 months to 1 August.
A Morrisons spokesperson said: “From 1 October, following UK government confirmation that all adults have had the opportunity to get double vaccinated, we will no longer be paying full sick pay for pinged colleagues who have chosen not to be vaccinated.”
Morrisons has faced backlash for its “dangerous and retrograde step”. Whilst the cut will not apply to those who have not yet been given the chance to get two vaccine doses, or those who have had Covid-19 symptoms, lawyers and union chiefs alike are warning the supermarket risks legal action. In addition, there is a clear risk that employees will not isolate when instructed to, as the lack of sick pay will impact their financial wellbeing.
There is also a risk that the supermarket will face discrimination claims, particularly from workers who medically cannot get the vaccine, or employees with disabilities who could medically get the vaccine but had decided against it.
At advo, we appreciate that having heard Morrisons stance, employers may be considering their own options. However, there are several implications of heavy handed mandates on vaccination or sick pay in terms of litigation, discrimination and employee engagement to name just a few. We would strongly recommend seeking professional HR advice prior to taking any action – talk to us today.