by Polly Mackenzie
Wednesday, 19
January 2022
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Cutting sick pay for the unvaccinated sets a dangerous precedent

Covid is causing people to throw their principles out the window
by Polly Mackenzie
Morrisons has announced that it will cut sick pay for unvaccinated staff

The legal adage is that “hard cases make bad law.” Increasingly, it seems Covid cases make bad law, too: the moment covid is in scope, people start throwing principles out the window and implementing policies they would never consider for anything else.

Cutting sick pay for unvaccinated staff is the latest example. Morrisons has joined Ikea and Next in saying that unvaccinated staff who have to isolate after contact with a Covid case will have to get by on statutory sick pay, instead of whatever more generous wages vaccinated people get when they are off. I can understand why the companies came up with this: vaccinated staff don’t have to isolate, so it’s only the unvaccinated who have to take these long periods off work even when they’re not ill. Employees are making a choice not to be vaccinated, and that costs the company money. Of course the company finds that irritating.

But the moment you zoom out from Covid and think about the general principle, you realise what a dangerous precedent this sets.

A few years ago, a colleague of mine broke his leg playing football at the weekend. He had to take a day off work for doctors’ appointments: should I have denied him sick pay because it was his “fault” he was injured? After all, he could have spent the weekend sitting safely on the sofa and kept his bones intact.

There are countless choices people make that affect the likelihood of them taking time off work for ill health. They might be overweight. They might have regular unprotected sex. They might smoke. What role do I have as an employer in those choices? Almost none: I might want to run employee health programmes to try and up the general wellbeing of my team, and reduce my overall sick leave. But I cannot, in the end, control how people spend their time when they’re not on the clock.

You could make the case that there shouldn’t be any sick pay, just as you could make the case that people should have to pay for their healthcare costs: if people faced the full financial consequences of ill health, perhaps they would make more of an effort to stay healthy. The problem is that you cannot, in the end, control your health. So a system where everyone who gets ill is punished financially metes out punishment to millions who did nothing wrong.

For better or worse, in the UK we have a collective system for protecting our health. We are all equal in the NHS, whether we drank six pints at lunch and fell off the pavement or we ate a macrobiotic salad while racing on the Peloton.

Sick pay is the same: you need time off when you’re ill, regardless of why you are ill. And that’s a principle that’s worth sticking with, not one that should be jacked in just because Covid is awful and vaccinations are good.

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Andrea X
Andrea X
5 months ago

Welcome to Dangerous Precedent No. 15 (I really lost count).
All this is going to accomplish is that they are not going to get tested (why would a healthy person would want to be tested is beyond me…). Should they be forced to isolate, they will say they have symptoms and be done with it (PCR tests are not required any longer)
All this is going to accomplish is more lying.

This is just more virtue signalling from Morrisons. Shame, as that is my supermarket of choice.

What surprises me is that no-one is mounting a legal challenge.

Last edited 5 months ago by Andrea X
Alka Hughes-Hallett
Alka Hughes-Hallett
5 months ago
Reply to  Andrea X

I am making a choice too. I will boycott Morrison and Next etc. Infact I will write to them to let them know so. It may not make much difference to them atm but if enough of us feel strongly about this issue , they may be forced to retract. Let’s see.

Warren T
Warren T
5 months ago

That is the only way to stop this madness.

Lou Campbell
Lou Campbell
5 months ago
Reply to  Andrea X

I saw on GB news the other day that there are legal challenges being mounted- There were a number of points… I can’t remember the guys name who said it, sorry

Philip L
Philip L
5 months ago

We know that the efficacy of vaccination drops so rapidly that, after only a few weeks, the protection offered by mRNA Wondergoo™ is the same as painting your bottom purple and singing The Yellow Rose of Texas in a falsetto. Otherwise known as “none whatsoever”.
It has also become evident from goo surveillance figures published by the UK, Denmark and Israel, that case rates among the those who bought the Wondergoo™ story are significantly larger than case rates among people who did not. (Also worth noting that nobody has come clean about this, let alone explained what’s going on.)
Combined with low level, easily disguised, basically common cold symptoms of Omicron, what this means is that unvaccinated staff – who are less likely to contract the virus in the first place, and who by mid February will be no more at risk of falling ill than your average triple Wondergoo™ recipient anyway – won’t submit positive test results and will come to work regardless.

Alex Stonor
Alex Stonor
5 months ago
Reply to  Philip L

Lol!! And what about other transmissible viruses & bacteria that aren’t covid and can equally spread through the ranks of any staff team. Flu & ‘the worst cold ever’ will also kill a granny.

Steven Campbell
Steven Campbell
5 months ago
Reply to  Philip L

 is the same as painting your bottom purple and singing The Yellow Rose of Texas in a falsetto
As a Texas Aggie I am having a great image of a T-Sip, Texas Alum or student, performing such an act in diversity class.

L Walker
L Walker
5 months ago
Reply to  Philip L

I’d pay good money to see a purple bottom sing the Yellow Rose Of Texas. My phone doesn’t do italics.

Peter LR
Peter LR
5 months ago

I estimate I spend £500+ on health per year so would favour some kind of insurance system that rewards healthy living. I’ve had the impression the German system makes the NHS look primitive. There wasn’t an obesity problem when the NHS was designed or such an aged population; it has to evolve. Prof Carl Henegan points out that the NHS can’t even adapt to accommodate annual winter pressures yet alone a pandemic.
Agree with your assertion that punishing non-vaccination sets a thin end of the wedge precedent.

Andrew Dalton
Andrew Dalton
5 months ago
Reply to  Peter LR

Here’s the irony. I was living pretty well: daily exercise of 4 miles walking to work, lots of cycling spring through early autumn, plenty of hiking all year round weather permitting. Diet could be better, but mostly home cooked.
Pretty much all of that went with the lockdown. Work from home, no motivation to cycle and throw in comfort eating/take aways (or nothing better to do, eating) and I’m in the worst shape I’ve been in a long time, possibly ever. Personally I think I should be billing the government for health damages, not the other way around.

Billy Bob
Billy Bob
5 months ago
Reply to  Peter LR

The German model has also always received much higher funding in terms of % GDP than the UK model which no doubt helps. The NHS is a very top heavy organisation though. with too many Chiefs and not enough Indians.
However I don’t believe you’ll ever get the British public to abandon the current model of the NHS, even though everybody is well aware of its flaws. They’ve been burned by the privatisation of public services in the past such as the awful public transport system and expensive and poorly maintained utilities, and are understandably wary of the likes of Branson trying to muscle his way into creaming profit from the health service

Richard Lyon
Richard Lyon
5 months ago

Do they cut sick pay for those healthy individuals who become ill as a consequence of unnecessary participation in the trial of an experimental, unlicensed, emergency-use only authorised gene therapy, intended for frail and vulnerable people, which they take to ward off the effects of a form of the virus with the impact of moderate flu?
Why not?

Last edited 5 months ago by Richard Lyon
Martin Johnson
Martin Johnson
5 months ago

You are not seeing people abandon principles, you are seeing more closely what are their REAL principles. Which are less attractive and humane than they or we thought.

William Murphy
William Murphy
5 months ago

Reminds me of a colleague decades ago who went paragliding while on sick leave and broke her wrist, thus extending her sick leave. There was a lot of muttering, but no other consequences (Hey, we were Civil Servants).

Plainly there is no limit to denying sick leave, especially to overweight doctors who smoke. More than anyone, they should realise how totally evil they are.

If a Morrisons employee has naturally generated COVID antibodies but no jabs (the evil swine), do they qualify for sick leave? Trouble is that you have to pay £65 out of your own pocket to get such an antibody test.

Last edited 5 months ago by William Murphy
Warren T
Warren T
5 months ago

Just imagine the outcry if an employer reduced benefits for someone who contracted AIDS via unprotected sex? But then again, an employer in the U.S. is not allowed to know this because of HIPAA laws, which were enacted to protect employees from discrimination. Somehow, the Vax has escaped the privacy laws.

James Joyce
James Joyce
5 months ago

“Employees are making a choice not to be vaccinated, and that costs the company money. Of course the company finds that irritating.”
Employees are making a choice to be fat, not to be fit, to smoke, to not get enough sleep, to have too much stress, use alcohol to relieve that stress….
I know–I have the solution: let’s monitor ALL ASPECTS of life by our employees, mandatory weight checks, blood alcohol levels, nicotine, hair samples to test for cannibis.
Only then can the companies be less irritated.
I’m double jabbed, boosted, and had my flu shot–4 “vaccines” in a year. I thought it was right for me. If it’s not right for you–good luck mate, do your own research, make your own decisions. Not my job–or the government’s, or the company’s job–to tell you what to do!

jules Ritchie
jules Ritchie
5 months ago

Don’t you guys in the UK have legislated protections for sick leave? How is it legal for these companies to rule in this way?

Andrew McDonald
Andrew McDonald
5 months ago

‘But I cannot, in the end, control how people spend their time when they’re not on the clock…’
I suppose there’s an argument for saying that your footballer example was playing on his own time, but your unvaccinated colleague is unvaccinated 24/24, on your time as well as on his own. Would that make a difference to your view? Are you (in general) allowed to specify how employees present at work? What if you pitch up for work with a dangerously contagious disease? And so on.

Allison Barrows
Allison Barrows
5 months ago

Since people who get the shot and it’s many boosters still get and spread COVID, does that make a difference to you?

Andrew McDonald
Andrew McDonald
5 months ago

It’s a question of degree, surely.

Ian Barton
Ian Barton
5 months ago

There are others angles to this debate that are rarely discussed: e.g the probability that people who choose not to vaccinate are less likely to infect others at work – and more likely to be better “team players” generally than those who don’t consider this to be important.
I also suspect the number of sick days – taken for other reasons – will be higher amongst those who choose not to vaccinate.
If I were a business about to take on new staff, I would follow those probabilities.

Last edited 5 months ago by Ian Barton
Lesley van Reenen
Lesley van Reenen
5 months ago
Reply to  Ian Barton

Why do you think the unvaccinated will take off more sick days? For other reasons?

Ian Barton
Ian Barton
5 months ago

My management experience over the years taught me that people who were less likely be helpful to (or considerate of) others – were less committed to the workplace generally.
This correlated strongly with a more patchy attendance record.
I see a refusal to take the vaccine as a relevant example

Philip L
Philip L
5 months ago
Reply to  Ian Barton

Well, what do you know, you’re not the only one in charge of people.
Last summer everyone in this office treated the jab as an integral part of their travel plans to Puerto Banús, far away from the madness.
The jab was never a reflection of consideration for others, nor a measure of willingness to be helpful. Though they sound relaxed and easy places to visit, “walk-in” clinics were in reality mandatory for people with active lives, and younger staff particularly expressed irritation at having to repeat visit. A subsequent realisation that two shots offered no protection probably didn’t help a feeling of having been railroaded by fear.
There has also been no link whatsoever between the desire for one’s next booster and attendance. If anything, the staff with poorer attendance records are – would you believe it! – those who favour getting away, whatever the cost, for a piss-up in Andalucía.

Ian Barton
Ian Barton
5 months ago
Reply to  Philip L

None of your experience surprises me – but it doesn’t change what I experienced over many years.
Maybe we just worked in different cultures …
PS – your opening sentence didn’t add much to the conversation.

Last edited 5 months ago by Ian Barton
Philip L
Philip L
5 months ago
Reply to  Ian Barton

Being vaccinated is linked to a greater likelihood of collaborating with colleagues at work?
There is truly no end to its marvels!

Andrew McDonald
Andrew McDonald
5 months ago
Reply to  Philip L

Ho hum. Correlation, not causation – rule takers and team players, etc etc

Ian Barton
Ian Barton
5 months ago

Indeed

Mel Bass
Mel Bass
5 months ago
Reply to  Ian Barton

So the unvaccinated aren’t team players? What utter, puerile nonsense, and yet another example of covid derangement syndrome. Thanks to my own medical history and family issues with vaccines, I’ve been advised by various medical professionals that I’d be safer avoiding the jabs, so I remain unvaxxed. I don’t think that makes me less considerate to my colleagues, when I’m the one who has had to cover for them repeatedly, when despite their jabs, they’ve caught covid again, and again, and again…
I had the bug once, btw, right back at the start. Natural immunity works.

L Walker
L Walker
5 months ago
Reply to  Ian Barton

I think you’re reaching, as my third grade teacher told me when I was monumentally unprepared for class.

L Walker
L Walker
5 months ago
Reply to  L Walker

And was making it up.