Next joins Ikea in cutting sick pay for unvaccinated workers

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Morrison and Ikea have announced similar changes in recent days

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High street stalwart Next has become the UK’s latest major business to cut sick pay for unvaccinated workers as corporate work increases pressure on employees to get the job done by COVID.

Next, which employs around 44,000 people, said unaffiliated workers who are “pinged” by an NHS app or told by test and trace to self-isolate will only be paid statutory sick pay.

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Employees who test positive for COVID-19, regardless of vaccination status, will be paid the more generous sick pay offered by the business, based on their standard rate of pay.

The retailer is the latest major business to ban sick pay for unaffiliated employees. Morrison and Ikea have announced similar changes in recent days. In the US, Citigroup Bank said this week that it would lay off all employees who were not vaccinated by next month.

The tough stance comes as politicians around the world harden their rhetoric without vaccination. Boris Johnson said last week that anti-vaxxers were “totally wrong” and spreading “mumbo jumbo”. In France, President Emmanuel Macron has said he wants to “pee” those who don’t get the jab.

News of Next’s decision to limit sick pay for the unconnected came as the UK government officially cut the isolation period for those who tested positive from seven days to five.

Mathew Fail, CBI Chief Policy Director, said: “Firms are safe to deal with increasing employee absenteeism by self-isolation, so the move should have almost immediate benefits.

“Businesses are urging a reduction in the period of self-isolation provided health experts confirm it is safe, as a practical change that will help keep the economy open as we adapt to living with the virus. “

Federation of Small Business (FSB) national president Mike Cherry said: “We are pleased to see this decision from the Secretary of Health and the UK Health and Safety Agency today.

“Over the past month we have made the case that, if it can be done safely, shortening the isolation period will make a huge difference to the hundreds of thousands of small businesses that currently have working staff.

“The mass isolation of two million people has hit the workforce at a time when firms are trying to bounce back from another disrupted festive season.”

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