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Coronavirus UK: Waitrose staff must ‘pay back time taken off’

Waitrose is making its workers pay back the time they spend self-isolating due to coronavirus, it has been claimed.

Supermarket bosses have told staff they will have to pay for up to two weeks of leave if they are self-isolating or doing so to protect someone else in their household.

Employees with severe underlying health problems are currently ‘shielding’ for 12 weeks and are unable to work or leave the house at all. 

A whistleblower who works for the upmarket food store told The National they fear infectious staff will return to work and risk spreading the virus to others because they ‘can’t afford’ to be off. 

Meanwhile John Lewis employees, who have been drafted in to help out at Waitrose while their stores are closed, are receiving 100 per cent of their salaries if they are off sick with symptoms.  

Waitrose (Milton Keynes store pictured) is making its workers pay back the time they spend self-isolating due to coronavirusy, one worker has claimed

The anonymous employee told the newspaper: ‘Lots of people who have worked with Waitrose for ages and who are self isolating or shielding family members are now getting phone calls saying they will have to pay time back.

‘It’s just a massive kick in the teeth. Most of the staff are really honest but now they will have to lie and come in to work even if they are not supposed to or pay back between 74 and 78 hours if they are full time and self-isolate for a fortnight.’

Waitrose is owned by the John Lewis Partnership, which was forced to put nearly 1,400 staff on furlough after John Lewis closed 50 stores nationwide. 

Some have been drafted in to help at Waitrose, but the whistleblower claims they are not faced with the same ‘punitive’ payback measures as their colleagues.

Both Waitrose staff and shoppers hit out at the supermarket over the claims this morning

Both Waitrose staff and shoppers hit out at the supermarket over the claims this morning

John Lewis staff who are ‘shielding’ at home will get 100 per cent of their salaries for the 12 weeks they are off work. 

But the Waitrose whistleblower says their colleagues are ‘furious’ that the two halves of the company are being treated differently and has escalated a complaint to senior management.

One Waitrose employee wrote on Twitter: ‘Waitrose, John Lewis were in helping us at Waitrose stores and now they’ve been told they can stay safe at home with 80 per cent of their pay.

‘Whilst us Waitrose staff have to go into work and risk ours and our families lives… how is this far? I thought we were ‘one’ partnership?’ 

A shopper wrote simply: ‘Waitrose treat your staff better,’ while someone else posted: ‘Shame on you clawing back salaries for staff self-isolating.’  

Yesterday it was announced that all Waitrose employees will receive a £200 bonus for continuing to work throughout the deadly virus outbreak. 

Shoppers are pictured queueing outside a Waitrose store in south London

Shoppers are pictured queueing outside a Waitrose store in south London 

Both in-store and through their home delivery, Waitrose has taken a number of measures to protect staff and customers from COVID-19. 

Last weekend it banned couples from shopping together to increase capacity in stores while still maintaining social distancing. 

Like at many other supermarkets, tape has been laid down on the floor to help shoppers stay 6ft apart from one another and queues are being spaced out evenly. 

Waitrose is not part of any workers’ union, but some employees are represented by UDSAW, the Union of Shop, Distributive and Allied Workers. 

They said in a statement: ‘Usdaw is working with employers to ensure that our members have the support they need to limit the spread of the virus as much as possible. 

‘Some of the measures we have secured include paid time off for sickness and self-isolation, ensuring that staff are not penalised under any absence policies for time off, access to hand washing facilities, hand sanitiser, clean workplaces and appropriate safety equipment. 

‘We are also expecting employers to take appropriate security measures to keep workers safe. Any Usdaw member with concerns should contact the union for advice.’ 

A Waitrose spokesman told MailOnline said they are asking workers to ‘time bank’ where possible and get a doctors note from NHS 111 if they are isolating for more than a week. 

Like at many other supermarkets, tape has been laid down on the floor to help shoppers stay 6ft apart from one another and queues are being spaced out evenly (Kensington store in west London pictured)

Like at many other supermarkets, tape has been laid down on the floor to help shoppers stay 6ft apart from one another and queues are being spaced out evenly (Kensington store in west London pictured)

They said in a statement: ‘For all Partners who are self-isolating due to a family member displaying COVID-19 symptoms, if they are physically well enough themselves to work then we will explore the option of working at home in the first instance.

‘However, as with many of our shop floor Partners, this is not an option available to them. Therefore, these Partners will be paid in full for the duration of their self-isolation. 

‘All we ask is for Partners who are self-isolating for more than 7 days, we require them to obtain an online isolation note from the NHS 111 website and provide this to their People Manager upon their return to work.

‘Where possible we are asking Partners to time bank, however we are being flexible about when time can be paid back, including into 2021, and we understand that isn’t possible for everyone – particularly where partners may need to isolate for more than one period. 

‘So we are being as flexible and supportive to our Partners as we can and everyone will be looked at on an individual basis and discussed with their manager. 

Read more at DailyMail.co.uk