A number of firms employing workers across the UK have announced cuts to sick pay for unvaccinated staff forced to self-isolate as Covid cases rise.

The changes come after the UK government confirmed on Thursday (13 January) that the self-isolation period in England is being reduced to five full days.

The move came as companies were seeing increased staff shortages as a result of the Omicron variant.

Health Secretary Sajid Javid confirmed that UK Health Security Agency (UKHSA) data shows that “around two-thirds of positive cases are no longer infectious by the end of day five”.

Under the move, people will now be able to take a lateral flow test on day five and six, and can leave isolation if they get two negative results.

This change will take effect in England from Monday (17 January).

The rules for contacts of people with Covid-19 have not changed. This means that fully vaccinated individuals who are identified as a contact should continue to take daily rapid lateral flow tests for seven days, but are not legally required to self-isolate.

Unvaccinated contacts are still legally required to self-isolate for the full 10-day period.

But which firms have changed rules on sick pay if staff are required to self-isolate after being in contact with someone who has Covid-19? Here’s the latest announcements you need to know.


High street retailer Next has cut sick pay for unvaccinated staff who are self-isolating after being in contact with someone with Covid-19.

Unvaccinated staff who are identified as a close contact of someone with the virus will only receive statutory sick pay unless there are mitigating circumstances.

The fashion chain confirmed that all employees who test positive for coronavirus, regardless of whether they are vaccinated, will be paid in full.

The policy comes after employees witnessed a jump in absences over recent weeks due to the rapid spread of the Omicron variant.

Next currently pays store sales staff and stock assistants between £6.55 and £9.21 per hour and warehouse operatives between £9.30 and £11.26 per hour.

However, unvaccinated staff who have not tested positive but are self-isolating could receive as little as £96.35 per week, the national minimum for statutory sick pay.


IKea confirmed on Monday (10 January) that it is cutting sick pay for unvaccinated members of staff who are forced to self-isolate after being identified as a contact of someone with Covid-19.

Those who are not vaccinated due to mitigating circumstances, such as pregnancy or other medical reasons, will still receive full pay if they are off work for Covid-related reasons.

Any employees who test positive for coronavirus will still get full sick pay.

A spokesperson said: "Unvaccinated co-workers without mitigating circumstances that test positive with Covid will be paid full company sick pay in line with our company absence policy.

"Unvaccinated co-workers without mitigating circumstances who have been identified as close contacts of a positive case will be paid statutory sick pay."

Wessex Water

Wessex Water has cut sick pay for unvaccinated members of staff who are forced to self-isolate due to Covid-19 from Monday (10 January).

The Bath-based company said the changes only affect those who are unvaccinated and required to self-isolate due to being identified as a close contact of someone who has tested positive for the virus.

Employees who do not have a medical reason to be unvaccinated – or an appointment scheduled for their jab – will only receive the statutory sick pay minimum of £96.35 per week.

The firm said it has brought in the changes to ensure water and sewerage services can continue amid rising coronavirus cases.

A spokesman said: “The vast majority of our workforce has been vaccinated and it’s important as a company providing essential services with key worker employees, the remainder get vaccinated to protect themselves, customers and their colleagues.

“To make it easy for our staff, vaccine appointments can be booked in work time.

“Absences due to Covid have doubled in the last week, so we need everyone to be available so we can continue to provide uninterrupted essential water and sewerage services.”

The firm added that throughout the pandemic it had not furloughed staff and anyone who had to self-isolate received full pay.


Morrisons cut sick pay for unvaccinated staff members who are forced to self-isolate back in October 2021, after saying it was taking measures to limit the “biblical costs” of the pandemic.

At the time, the supermarkets said the cut to sick pay would not apply to workers who had not yet had a chance to receive two doses of a Covid-19 vaccine.

David Potts, chief executive, said the pay changes were intended to encourage more workers to get vaccinated.

The sick pay policy is understood to still be in force, according to The Mirror.