Wilko threatens to cut company sick pay

It will lead to more staff going to work when ill.

The Wilko chain of homeware shops has threatened to cut its employees sick pay entitlements, according to their trade union GMB.

The union said that Wilko is proposing that workers who have been with the company for less than a year should get no company sick pay and that workers who have been there longer should only get sick pay once a year.

This would apply to shop and distribution workers. Gary Carter, GMB National Officer, said: “GMB members are furious that Wilko would turn on its dedicated workforce and slash company sick pay. What has Wilko become?

“This will have a negative impact on the business while hard-working employees will be pushed into poverty because they won’t be able to pay their bills if they are sick. Other workers will be forced to come into stores when sick because Wilko has taken away their sick pay.”

Employers who do not pay sick pay have been criticised recently for pushing their employees to work when sick and therefore potentially helping the coronavirus to spread.

As well as company sick pay, there is statutory sick pay – which all employers have to pay. This is just £94.25 a week and is paid by an employer for up to 28 weeks.

Normally, to be eligible for it, you have to have been sick for four days in a row (including weekends). In response to coronavirus, the government has changed this so that statutory sick pay is paid from day one of sickness.

However, to be eligible for statutory sick pay, you also have to have earned more than £118 per week the previous week. The Liberal Democrats are urging the government to scrap this qualification.

A spokesperson from Wilko said: “We have been a family friendly company for 90 years and we remain so. We have been talking to the GMB about our pressing need to reduce our high sickness absence levels for some time and to bring them in line with our competitors.”

“We have a generous company sick pay policy which is over and above the market. In some areas of our business, absence levels are double that of the industry standard and this is a real concern for us.

“Our plan is to take steps to bring our company sick pay into line with the industry standard for retail to be competitive in the marketplace for our customers.

“This is not related in any way to the Covid-19 outbreak. As a responsible business we are following PHE advice, should any team members need time off as a result of Covid-19, they will be paid Company Sick Pay as an exceptional circumstance.”

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