Furniture giant Ikea has slashed sick pay entitlement for some unvaccinated staff forced to self-isolate after close contact with someone infected with Covid, The Mail on Sunday can reveal.

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.

In an effort to tackle the impact of the 'pingdemic' hitting businesses, from last August people in England who were double jabbed were no longer legally required to self-isolate if they were identified as a close contact of a positive Covid-19 case - but unvaccinated workers contacted by NHS Test and Trace are required to isolate.

Comment: The vaccinated are still being able to contract and infect others, and get sick, so there's no scientific backing as to why they should be treated any differently to the unvaccinated.

Ikea, which has 21 large stores and more than 10,000 staff in the UK, said 'mitigating circumstances' would be taken into consideration.

'We appreciate that this is an emotive topic and all circumstances will be considered on a case by case basis, therefore anyone in doubt or concerned about their situation is encouraged to speak to their manager,' said a spokeswoman.

Ikea later clarified that the policy only affects unvaccinated workers with 'high levels of absence'.

Comment: So a bit of public back tracking, but the rule is now part of their employment policy and one can expect it will be enforced by HR.

The retailer is among a string of companies such as Santander and Asda which encouraged employees to receive a coronavirus jab, offering paid time off for vaccinations.

Comment: Unsurprisingly, these same companies aren't offering compensation for staff that suffer side effects, one of which, albeit rare, is death: BBC presenter Lisa Shaw, 44, died of brain hemorrhage caused by AstraZeneca injection, coroner inquest finds

From tomorrow, staff at utilities firm Wessex Water who have not received at least one Covid vaccination or have no appointment to be vaccinated will only receive SSP if they are required to self-isolate as a close contact of a Covid case.

Absences had doubled in the past week, it said.

'We need everyone to be available so we can continue to provide uninterrupted essential water and sewerage services.'

Comment: Even the pharmaceutical companies don't claim that the jab will reduce absence from work due to Covid, they mostly claim (without merit) that it reduces the risk of hospitalisation.

The legal position of employers treating vaccinated and unvaccinated staff differently is untested.

Comment: History has shown us where apartheid and segregation can lead us.

Richard Fox, of law firm Kingsley Napley, said: 'With the Government telling everybody to get the vaccine and care workers forced to get it, it could be difficult for an employee to mount a claim.'