A popular supermarket chain recently announced they will no longer pay full Statutory Sickness Pay to employees who need to isolate due to Covid-19 if they haven’t been vaccinated. This has caused a lot of controversy with unions saying it’s unlawful. This has also led to many people asking the question, Can you withhold sick pay for unvaccinated workers? In addition, we wanted to answer this once and for all.
Can you withhold sick pay for unvaccinated workers? In short, no. Since the government has stressed that Covid-19 jabs are not compulsory, withholding SSP from unvaccinated employees can be seen as discrimination, and, much like a no jab, no job policy, it could land you in hot water as an employer. In addition, getting vaccinates remains a personal choice for employees accept from workplaces such as care homes.
Withholding SSP should be reserved for cases where you can prove that an employee was not really sick, or where they have failed to notify you of their absence.
If an employee is penalised in any way for not being vaccinated, this could lead to a claim. Some employees are also unable to get the vaccine due to medical grounds. In addition, this may be seen as discrimination.
Statutory Sick Pay Policy
It can be a good idea to have a SSP policy in place to ensure you’re fully compliant. It also allows your employee knows what they are entitled to. To ensure you retain good employees, you can consider paying more than the statutory pay rate when they are off work due to illness.
If you already have a sick pay policy or scheme in place, it’s important you abide by this. Failure to do so can be a breach of contract and can potentially lead to a constructive dismissal claim.
Offering more money than the statutory sick pay is at the employers discretion. In addition, you can technically withhold this. However, an employment tribunal can argue that the policy offering more than the SSP is a contractual agreement. In addition, it’s not advised to withhold this from unvaccinated employees.
If you would like any further advice on Statutory Sick Pay, feel free to contact our HR experts on 01383 668 178 or firstname.lastname@example.org.