Ikea has slashed sick pay for unvaccinated workers in the United Kingdom who are forced to isolate after being exposed to COVID-19.
The new policy will only entitle the exposed, unvaccinated workers to statutory sick pay of £96.35 per week, or about $130, as mandated by law, the BBC reported.
By comparison, typical weekly pay for an Ikea worker is £400 to £450 ($542 to $610).
The furniture retailer said it would consider mitigating factors before implementing the pay cut, such as medical exemptions for certain unvaccinated workers.
Unvaccinated workers who test positive for COVID-19 without mitigating factors may still be eligible for full sick pay. Managers will review the affected worker’s absence record and other factors to determine whether they should be paid instead under the statutory sick pay policy.
“We appreciate that this is an emotive topic and all circumstances will be considered on a case by case basis, therefore anyone in doubt or concerned about their situation is encouraged to speak to their manager,” Ikea said in a statement on the policy.
Representatives from Ikea’s US division declined to comment on the policy for UK workers.
“We cannot comment on policies and benefits being offered to IKEA co-workers in other markets,” Ikea said in a statement. “Since the start of the pandemic, the health and safety of our co-workers have been our highest priority for IKEA globally.”
“IKEA US has offered up to 80 hours of emergency sick pay to co-workers regardless of vaccination status, which is regularly reviewed in line with changes to guidance from the CDC and local ordinances,” the company added.
Ikea employs more than 10,000 workers at its UK-based stores. The Daily Mail was first to report on the policy.
Fully vaccinated UK-based employees who opt to self-isolate after a COVID-19 exposure will receive full sick pay, the company said. Under current UK government guidelines, fully vaccinated individuals are not required to self-isolate after an exposure, while unvaccinated workers must self-isolate for 10 days.
In the US, companies are contending with staffing shortages amid a surge in sick calls due to the highly contagious Omicron variant. Firms are also determining the best way to implement vaccine and mask requirements for staff.
Last week, the Supreme Court heard arguments for legal challenges related to the Biden administration’s push to implement a vaccine mandate for large employers. Under President Biden’s initiative, large employers with 100 or more employees would be required to mandate vaccinations or testing in the workplace.