Companies need to offer staff improved sick pay on a temporary basis to ensure that illness does not spread to staff and force business closures, say leading tax and advisory firm Blick Rothenberg.
Simon Rothenberg, a director at the firm said: “More and more employees, often those on shift pattern work, are not taking time off when they are ill because employers will only pay statutory sick pay of £96.35 a week, and only after four days if it is non Covid related.”
He added: “They need to step up to the plate and pay full sick pay. Many employees are not able to afford the reduction in pay which would accompany taking sick leave which encourages them to go to work when they are sick. Even if staff do not have Covid, a cold or seasonal flu spreading around a workforce at the same time as Covid absences could have a significant impact on the ability of business to trade.”
Simon said: “This is something which has been happening for years with the attitude in all workplaces including offices, retail and manufacturing to soldier on through a cold or flu, however, if the Pandemic has taught us anything, it is that when people are ill, they should not be at work. This not only improves the employees’ health by giving them the time to recover, but also significantly reduces the chances of illness spreading around the workforce.”
He added: “The Government has enhanced Statutory Sick Pay to be payable from the first day of isolation for those impacted by Covid, however this will still mean many are losing out from isolating. I would encourage employers to top this sick pay up to full pay to ensure staff can afford to isolate and, at the same time, offer similar terms for those who are sick with other illness.”
Simon said: “Clearly, any such offer would be an upfront cost for employers, but if it were to avoid even one day of forced closure due to staff shortages the pay back on such a policy would be immediate. It would also engender improved relations and aid long term physical and mental health of the work force. In the short term, while the Omicron variant continues to run rampant through workforces, employers should continue to encourage staff to take lateral flow tests on a regular basis and, given the current issues with obtaining these, try to source for staff who are finding difficulties in obtaining the tests.”