Wilko to slash sick pay for 21,000 workers amid coronavirus outbreak
Household chain Wilko is to make a series of dramatic cuts to its sick pay terms as coronavirus continues to sweep through the UK .
As the number of people affected in Britain hits 87, Mirror Money can reveal the high street chain is making cuts for 21,000 employees in stores and at warehouses across the country.
In documents sent to staff, the company has explained it will be withdrawing sick pay for all workers after their second absence.
The rules effectively mean if you're ill more than once in a year – you will not be paid for it.
"Seems like the new management are at it again," one worker told Mirror Money.
"This will affect staff working whilst ill to pay the bills, it's another so called family friendly change to the contract."
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Mirror Money put the claims to Wilko who have said they will "do the right thing in exceptional circumstances," however have confirmed the changes will kick in on April 1.
It said the move has been made to prevent workers from "taking advantage" of its sick pay policy.
"We've been in talks with our team members and their elected representatives since January regarding routine changes to our company sick pay to bring it in line with other businesses," a statement told Mirror Money.
"We’re committed to finding a way forward that provides care for those who need it most, and prevents the minority taking advantage of our policy, company sick pay will remain for any team members who are seriously ill.
"We’re removing company sick pay from the 2 absence, and any subsequent absences, within a 12 month rolling period. Therefore, most team members will continue to be eligible for company sick pay and everyone will be entitled to receive statutory sick pay.
"We've offered numerous alternatives and different ways of working to find a solution that is simple and fair for everyone and more importantly, we’ll continue to make sure that team members who are seriously ill, have the support they need and as a responsible business we’ll always do the right thing in exceptional circumstances," the statement concluded.
However, union GMB, which represents workers, described the decision as a punishment for workers.
It said hard-working employees will be pushed into poverty because they won’t be able to pay their bills if they are sick.
"For the second time in six months Wilko could face strike action, this time because of cuts to sick pay," Gary Carter, GMB National Officer, told Mirror Money.
"GMB members were prepared for strike action over punishing weekend rotas. Only last ditch talks at 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.
"GMB members are furious that Wilko would turn on its dedicated workforce and slash company sick pay.
"What has Wilko become?
"Picking a fight with your workforce by imposing draconian cuts to sick pay is no way for a modern employer to act.
"This will have a negative impact on both the business, while hard-working 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.
"GMB members are rightly going to fight this and their union will support them."
The move marks the second blow to Wilko workers in just six months – after the company announced plans to introduce seven-day working rotas at two of its major distribution centres last year .
Workers at Wilko told Mirror Money the contract changes have left them feeling bullied and victimised, with no one to turn to.
"Morale is so low it is untrue," one mum-of-two told us.
Under new guidelines, staff at two of the firm's distribution centres – Magor in Wales and Worksop in Nottinghamshire – will see their rotas shift to seven days, as part of plans to "standardise" around-the-clock working at the centres.
It means those contracted to work occasional weekends, will now have to work more hours by force.
One worker said it feels as through the chain is trying to axe workers.
Another said he feels like it's part of the company's wider plan to avoid redundancy payouts.
At the time, the company told staff there would be "repercussions" for those who took part in strike action .
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