Supermarket firm Waitrose & Partners has promised to reverse its policy requiring self-isolating workers to make up their hours owed at a later date.
According to Waitrose, it will reverse a policy where workers self-isolating because of their family were required to make up their hours owed at a later date.
The retailer said: “We’re really sorry that we got it wrong. We’ve listened to our Partners and changed our policy.”
“Partners who are self isolating without symptoms and unable to work from home will no longer be required to ‘time bank’ any of their time. Instead they will be on authorized paid absence from day one,” the company clarified.
According to Waitrose workers, customers and staff were being placed at risk during the coronavirus pandemic via its time bank system since it demanded partners to recoup their hours. The firm expected staff to recover time they took off for sick family members.
Some workers argued that due to the time bank system, “some people will continue to show up for work,” which will people at risk.
The said policy affected workers who opted to self-isolate because a family member displayed COVID-19 symptoms.
The previous policy stated: “If they are physically well enough themselves to work, then we will explore the option of working at home in the first instance.”
This means that if the workers received full compensation during the time they took off, they were required to pay that time back by working overtime for no extra pay when they returned to work.
Prior to reversal
Before Waitrose decided to abandon the said policy, a worker pointed out: “It means someone on a 35-hour contract would have to work an extra 70 hours if they had two weeks in isolation.”
“They would be technically unpaid as the company would say they’ve already paid them for it,” the employee explained.
The worker also emphasized that employees of John Lewis, which is part of the business, were subjected to a different policy.
The worker said: “Front line Waitrose staff are being pressured to work back hours in order to protect the business, at least that’s what they’re telling us. But some John Lewis and head office staff are being paid 100% salary to stay at home.”
Another Waitrose employee said: “My biggest concern around this is that really vulnerable people will not self-isolate or shield, and those who need to self-isolate due to family illness will put society as a whole at risk due to these punitive measures.”
Meanwhile, Marks & Spencer announced: “Any colleague who needs to self-isolate for seven to 14 days can do so on full pay. Colleagues who are pregnant, 70+ or with the health conditions specified by the Department of Health, are already on leave for 12 weeks on full pay.”
ASDA chief executive Roger Burnley said: “We’ve committed to supporting our colleagues that have been identified by the government as needing to self-isolate for 12 weeks, ensuring these colleagues receive full pay for their isolation period.”
ASDA is offering 12 weeks of fully paid leave to staff over the age of 70, or who are pregnant and classed as vulnerable, as well as the carers of extremely vulnerable people.