John Lewis says its unjabbed staff are entitled to full sick pay after Morrisons, Ikea, Ocado and Next said they would only get £96.35 a week legal minimum

  • Many retailers stated that unjabbed employees would receive statutory pay only
  • Andrew Murphy, John Lewis Director of Sales and Marketing, stated that this policy is “just not right”. 
  • Retailer will pay full sick leave to workers who have been forced to isolating themselves from their jobs by refusing to be jabbered 

John Lewis stated that its entire staff would receive sick pay for Covid absences even though they may not be vaxxed. 

Andrew Murphy, John Lewis’s operations director, said that he didn’t ‘cast any judgment’ on the matter and that it wouldn’t be right to pay unvaccinated employees less. 

It comes after Morrisons, Ikea, Ocado and Next all revealed they would only give unjabbed staff £96.35 a week if they have to isolate with Covid – the legal minimum. 

Mr Murphy said in a Linkedin post: ‘We’re conscious that some businesses have changed their sick pay policy with regard to unvaccinated employees in some Covid-related absence scenarios.

‘[But]We don’t think it is right to link a partner’s vaccine status with the amount they get.

“As life seems increasingly to offer opportunities to cause division, and as hopes rise that the pandemic stage of Covid might be ending soon, we believe that this is our best option.

John Lewis's operations director Andrew Murphy said unvaccinated workers will be given full sick pay

Andrew Murphy, John Lewis’s operations director, said that workers who are not vaccinated will get full sick leave

Asda, Tesco, and Sainsbury’s all claim that they offer full sick pay to unvaccinated employees when they are isolated. 

Next employs approximately 44,000 workers. Next announced earlier in the month that any employee who tests positive for Covid-19, regardless of their vaccination status, will receive full compensation.

Unvaccinated employees who have been identified by the virus as close contacts will be required to receive sick pay, unless mitigating circumstances exist.

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


Employees can get £96.35 per week Statutory Sick Pay (SSP) if they are too ill to work.

While this sum is minimum, employers may offer greater compensation.

To qualify for SSP, workers must be classed as an employee and have done ‘some work’ for their employer; earn an average of at least £120 per week; and have been ill or self-isolating for at least four days in a row, including non-working days.

All agency workers can receive Statutory Sick pay.

SSP can be affected if employees fail to tell employers they cannot work by the set deadline or in seven days, if none have been set.

Maximum SSP allowance is 28 weeks. Statutory Maternity pay recipients are not eligible.

It is not clear whether employers can treat vaccinated workers differently. 

Richard Fox from law firm Kingsley Napley said that despite the Government telling everyone to have the vaccine and workers having to be vaccinated, an employee might find it difficult to file a claim.

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

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

Morrisons, in September announced that they would reduce sick pay for employees who are not vaccinated. This was to encourage more people to have the jab.  

David Potts is the chief executive officer of this Bradford-based company. He said that pay increases were part of a strategy for mitigating cost rises due to shortages in HGV drivers and supply chain disruptions.

Ikea, a retail giant, said that its policies had to adapt to changing circumstances. It reduced sick pay for employees who were not vaccinated and had to isolate themselves from Covid. 

Last month was a good month for self-isolation. But there were no adjustments to guidelines for people not vaccinated who are in direct contact with positive cases.

The move means unvaccinated workers, who are required by the Government to isolate for 10 days after close contact, could receive as little as £96.35 a week under Statutory Sick Pay (SSP) obligations, a legal minimum.

That compares with the average pay for Ikea shopfloor staff of £10.10 an hour outside London and £11.30 in the capital – the equivalent of £404 and £452 for an average working week.

Ikea has more than 10,000 employees in the UK and 21 stores. 

“We understand that this emotive topic can be difficult to discuss and will consider all cases individually. We encourage anyone with doubts or concerns to contact their manager.” 

Santander, Asda and other companies have encouraged their employees to get a coronavirus jab. They also offer paid time off for vaccines.