Pub chain JD Wetherspoon has been criticised for stating that staff will be subject to regular statutory sick pay rules if they self-isolate to prevent the spread of the Covid-19 coronavirus.
In a note to its more than 43,000 staff, it said any employee required to self-quarantine if they suspect they have the virus, or have recently returned from one of the areas where the government is advising people should self-isolate, will be treated in the same way as an employee unable to attend work because they are sick.
Employers’ response to covid-19
This means they will be eligible for statutory sick pay or the company’s sick pay policy, depending on their employment contract.
Those entitled to just SSP, which includes non-managerial staff, will only be paid after they have been off work for four or more days in a row. SSP is worth £94.25 per week.
Wetherspoon has also given staff the option to take paid holiday.
A spokesperson for the company said: “Coronavirus is being treated like any other illness.
“In line with the company’s established guidelines, employees that are required to isolate themselves are being treated in the same way as any employee who is off work for any form of sickness.
“Staff who are eligible to statutory sick pay, receive payment after three waiting days, which is in accordance with legislation.”
Wetherspoon’s policy was widely criticised on social media. The Living Wage for Brockley Barge Staff campaign group, which campaigns for wage increases at a Wetherspoon pub in south London, said: “Wetherspoons has sent out a briefing on Coronavirus and has made clear that even if employees are in quarantine by orders of the government, that they will still not receive sick pay from day one.
“The company is forcing workers to choose between public health and making rent.”
Wetherspoons has sent out a briefing on Coronavirus and has made clear that even if employees are in quarantine by orders of the Government, that they will still not receive sick pay from day one.
The company is forcing workers to choose between public health and making rent. pic.twitter.com/KPBBqatu5F
— Living Wage for Brockley Barge Staff (@LivingWageBarge) February 27, 2020
Employment lawyer Fudia Smartt said: “For those who can’t work flexibly (and esp. low earners) being told to self-isolate even if not ill can have real financial repercussions.”
Earlier this week health secretary Matt Hancock said employees who have been advised to self-isolate should still be paid as “self-isolation on medical advice is considered sickness for employment purposes”.
Acas advice states that employees who are told not to come into work because of coronavirus fears should receive their usual pay. Normal sick pay policies apply if they contract the virus.