Ocado, Morrisons, Next: Britain's retailers get tougher on the unvaccinated

Firms are introducing new rules for staff who have not had a coronavirus vaccine

A shopper wearing a face mask leaves a Morrisons supermarket in Southwark, south London. AFP

Staff at some UK-based retailers are starting to feel the financial impact of being unvaccinated.

A growing number are toughening their stance against unvaccinated staff who come into contact with infected people, as they seek to cut costs from the long-running pandemic.

British supermarket chain Morrisons and online counterpart Ocado, as well as clothing retailer Next and Swedish home furnishings giant Ikea, have all reduced sick pay for unvaccinated UK staff required to isolate after Covid contact.

More than 52 million people in the UK (90.7 per cent) have received a first vaccine dose, while 36.5 million (63.6 per cent) have already had their third.

The UK also currently operates a Covid pass system for entry to large venues. However, Boris Johnson is expected to announce a review of those rules, known as Plan B, as early as today.

On Tuesday, the UK recorded 438 further deaths from coronavirus, the highest number of daily fatalities since February of last year.

The country also reported a further 94,432 cases, down from 120,821 a week ago, but higher than at the weekend, when infections hit their lowest levels in a month.

The issue of how the unvaccinated should be treated has been in focus after unvaccinated tennis player Novak Djokovic's deportation from Australia.

Ikea offers full company sick pay to both vaccinated staff and unvaccinated staff who have special circumstances, it said in a statement on its policy for virus absences.

An employee prepares an order at an Ikea store in Britain. Getty Images

Unvaccinated staff without mitigating circumstances, such as pregnancy or medical reasons, will be paid statutory sick pay, which is the legal minimum.

Next, Ocado and Morrisons also confirmed in separate statements that they operate a broadly similar policy.

However, unvaccinated staff with no mitigating reason will only receive standard company sick pay if they test positive for Covid-19.

Under current rules, fully vaccinated individuals in Britain are not legally required to isolate after coming into contact with a person who tests positive, but unvaccinated individuals must self-isolate for 10 days.

All people with Covid-19 must self-isolate for five days, after which they can finish if they test negative on days five and six and do not have a temperature.

Updated: January 19, 2022, 9:47 AM