Homeware and household goods chain Wilko Retail is reducing sick pay for its retail and distribution employees; under the new policy, staff that have been at the business for less than a year will no longer be entitled to sick pay.
Additionally, longstanding employees will only be entitled to sick pay on one occasion per year.
Gary Carter, national officer at trade union GMB, said: “GMB members were prepared for industrial action over punishing weekend rotas. Only last-ditch talks at [the Advisory, Conciliation and Arbitration Service (Acas)] prevented a strike which would have crippled the supply to stores.
“Now, Wilko management wants to cut sick pay for staff in stores and for distribution workers.
“This will have a negative impact [on] the business, while hardworking 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.”
A spokesperson for Wilko said: “We have been a family-friendly [business] for 90 years and we remain so. We have been talking to 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 [organisational] 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 [organisational] 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 [sick pay] as an exceptional circumstance.”