Wilko has apologised for telling Covid-positive staff to come into work, saying “when we get something wrong, we hold our hands up”.

The Mirror reports that more than 20,000 staff were sent a memo by the retail store, telling them they could continue to go into the stores, if they felt well enough. 

Wilko chief executive, Jerome Saint-Marc said: “As throughout our 92 years on the High Street, the safety and wellbeing of our shoppers and teams is at the heart of our business and we’re truly sorry for any understandable concerns our communications may have raised.”

He said the company’s advice to staff with Covid symptoms or those who test positive was to stay at home and avoid contact with others.

Since February 24th, people with a Covid positive test are no longer required to isolate in England, even though it is still recommended. From April 1st, there will be no Covid restrictions. People in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland still must self-isolate if they test positive for Covid.

The memo

In its initial staff memo, Wilko said: “If you test positive for Covid-19 and feel well you can continue to come to work, if you feel too unwell you can follow the absence policy.”

Unions were scathing, warning that staff on the lowest pay would face the difficult choice of whether to isolate. Around two million workers in the country do not qualify for sick pay, due to not earning at least £120 a week. 

What’s the consensus for desk-based staff?

Meanwhile, research from  Anne Corder Recruitment shows that across England, most employers would still prefer staff who test positive to work – but from home.

Sixty three percent felt staff should continue to ‘work from home’ while around a third (31 per cent) suggested only working if they felt well enough to.

Six percent say they would not expect their employees to work at all, but none of the respondents said they would ask the individual to come into the office.

Anne Corder Recruitment managing director Nel Woolcott said:“We know that a healthy and happy workforce is a much more productive one, and for the many employees who continue to work from home – the lifting of the self-isolation rules won’t necessarily impact on their everyday working life. The poll results show that employers are not suddenly going to change any arrangements that are working well.”

The ACR findings are a contradiction to those of a recent survey* of 250 business leaders in England, which suggested that 31 per cent had already decided to scrap their self-isolation policies for Covid-positive employees once the requirement was dropped.

It found that less than half (48 per cent) of businesses planned to continue requiring employees who test positive for the virus to work from home once the rules change, while 21 per cent admitted they were still unsure.

The survey found that employers with a predominantly desk-based workforce were more likely to continue with their self-isolation requirements when compared to employers with a home-based workforce (58 per cent and 37 per cent respectively).