Should unvaccinated workers get less sick pay than those vaccinated against COVID-19?

Kate BrooksbankPolitical Researcher
March 09, 2022, 10:21 AM GMT+0

Young people are more likely to oppose reducing sick pay for those who are unvaccinated

Several big-name retailers have announced they will slash sick pay for unvaccinated workers who are isolating after being exposed to COVID-19. This has prompted debate as to whether workers who are unvaccinated against the virus should receive the same amount of sick pay as vaccinated workers.

New YouGov research shows that by 46% to 37% Britons support businesses reducing the extra sick pay they give on top of statutory sick pay for those who are unvaccinated and have been instructed to isolate because they have COVID-19. However, people are split 41% support to 42% opposed on businesses reducing extra sick pay for unvaccinated workers who test negative for COVID-19 but still have to self-isolate.

Opinion is similarly split on reductions in statutory sick pay for the unvaccinated who have to isolate because they have been in contact with someone who has tested positive, but test negative themselves (42% support and 41% oppose). However, people tend to oppose cutting statutory sick pay for unvaccinated employees who test positive for COVID-19 by 44% to 37%.

The young are more inclined to oppose cuts to statutory and extra sick pay. For example, 52% of 18-24 year olds oppose businesses reducing sick pay for unvaccinated employees who test positive for COVID-19 and have to isolate, versus 29% of those aged 65 and over.

Those who voted Labour in the 2019 general election are more likely to oppose reductions to both government statutory sick pay and extra sick pay. For instance, while half of Conservative voters (52%) would support reducing statutory sick pay for unvaccinated workers who test positive for COVID-19, only a third of Labour voters (34%) would support this, with 48% opposed.

The results also show that Britons tend to think businesses should have full autonomy over whether they pay extra sick pay to unvaccinated workers (40%), as opposed to the government mandating businesses to continue to pay unvaccinated employees extra sick pay (24%), or for all businesses to not provide any extra sick pay for unvaccinated workers (18%).

However, Labour voters are split between 36% who think it should be up to businesses to decide, and three in ten (31%) think the government should prevent firms from withholding extra sick pay based on vaccination status.

By comparison, Conservative voters are much more likely to think it should be up to businesses as to whether or not they continue to provide extra sick pay to unvaccinated employees (48%) – only 16% think it should be compulsory.

See full results here 

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