WHAT links retailers Next, Morrisons and Ikea apart from the fact they are all retailers?

The answer is they have all changed their sick pay policies in response to the Covid pandemic.

Next has cut sick pay for unvaccinated staff who are self-isolating after being in contact with someone with Covid-19.

Unvaccinated staff who are identified as a close contact of someone with the virus will only receive statutory sick pay unless there are mitigating circumstances but all employees who test positive for coronavirus, regardless of whether they are vaccinated, will be paid in full.

It’s the same story at Ikea which confirmed it is cutting sick pay for unvaccinated members of staff who are forced to self-isolate after being identified as a contact of someone with Covid-19.

Those who are not vaccinated due to mitigating circumstances, such as pregnancy or other medical reasons, will still receive full pay if they are off work for Covid-related reasons.

Any employees who test positive for coronavirus will still get full sick pay.

Morrisons cut sick pay for unvaccinated staff members who are forced to self-isolate back in October last year, after saying it was taking measures to limit the ‘biblical costs’ of the pandemic.

Are these companies right to do this? I really think they are.

Legally, you can get £96.35 per week Statutory Sick Pay (SSP) if you’re too ill to work. It’s paid by your employer for up to 28 weeks. But the SSP rules were amended to deal with the coronavirus outbreak and now you can get SSP if you’re self-isolating because you or someone you live with has Covid-19 symptoms or has tested positive or if you’ve been notified by the NHS or public health authorities that you’ve been in contact with someone with Covid.

Of course, many companies have enhanced sick pay schemes that make up most or all of salaries, usually for a specific period, but self-isolating because you have been in contact with someone who has tested positive isn’t the same as being ill yourself.

I’ve said before that unless someone has a valid medical reason for not being vaccinated, I simply have no patience for those who decline to get jabbed. I accept absolutely that people have the right to make up their own minds if they want to be vaccinated or not. That’s their decision and theirs alone to make.

But as my dad used to say, actions have consequences and I applaud Next, Morrisons and Ikea for taking this stance.

Sometimes your ‘rights’ come with responsibilities and have outcomes you think aren’t fair. But I’m afraid the anti-vaxxers are just going to have to suck it up this time.

On another topic, I notice the thorny topic of recycling is back on the agenda after a report from the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs revealed that 2,516 tonnes of recycling waste collected by Warrington Borough Council was rejected at the point of sorting in the year to March – more than the 2,253 tonnes rejected the previous year.

Recycling charity Wrap estimates that waste disposed of as recycling, which is then found not to be recyclable, costs councils around £93 per tonne to dispose of. It would mean rejected waste cost taxpayers in Warrington an estimated £233,988 in 2020-21 alone.

Add to this the frustration householders feel when their blue bin isn’t emptied because it contains so-called ‘forbidden or contaminated’ waste and it is clear that all is not well with the town’s waste recycling system.

It very much feels there is a need for the good people of Warrington to be given clear guidance about what can and can’t be recycled (spoiler alert: There is a full list on the council’s website).

But as a public service announcement, don’t put plastic bags of any description in your blue bin. They are forbidden, you will have ‘contaminated’ your bin and there’s a very good chance it won’t be collected.