WILKO is reducing sick pay for 21,000 shop and warehouse workers as the coronavirus continues to spread across the globe.
From April 1, the retailer is withdrawing sick pay for all workers after their second absence.
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The news comes as employers are under pressure to pay sick leave to staff affected by the coronavirus.
This is to stop employees who've been infected by the deadly bug coming into work because they want to get paid.
Yesterday, Prime Minister Boris Johnson confirmed that anyone who has to self-isolate over coronavirus will get statutory sick pay from day one.
They previously had to wait four days to claim funding help, but you still need to earn at least £118 a week to qualify.
Wilko has confirmed it'll treat coronavirus absences as an "exceptional circumstance", and those who are seriously ill will keep their sick pay.
For others, the new rules mean that if you're ill more than once in a year, you won't be paid for it beyond the statutory minimum.
While if you've working at Wilko for less than a year, you're not entitled to any sick pay at all.
The retailer said it's changing its policy to reduce its "high sickness absence levels" and to bring them in line with its competitors.
It told The Sun it's sent briefings to team leaders recently so they can inform their staff members.
But GMB Union says the move will push hard-working employees into poverty.
Gary Carter, national officer of GMB, said: "Picking a fight with your workforce by imposing draconian cuts to sick pay is no way for a modern employer to act.
"This will have a negative impact on both the business, while hard-working employees will be pushed into poverty because they won’t be able to pay their bills if they are sick.
"Other workers will be forced to come into stores when sick because Wilko has taken away their sick pay."
A spokesperson for Wilko told The Sun: “We have been a family friendly company for 90 years and we remain so.
“We have a generous company sick pay policy which is over and above the market.
"In some areas of our business, absence levels are double that of the industry standard and this is a real concern for us.
“Our plan is to take steps to bring our company sick pay into line with the industry standard for retail to be competitive in the marketplace for our customers.
“This is not related in any way to the Covid-19 outbreak.
"As a responsible business we are following Public Health England advice, should any team members need time off as a result of Covid-19, they will be paid company sick pay as an exceptional circumstance."
Last year, Wilko workers announced strike action in response to a row over “brutal” weekend rotas.
While in October, "12,000 Asda staff faced the sack" over new contracts where they lose paid breaks.
Just last week, Tesco said it plans to axe 1,800 jobs as it cuts back on in-store bakeries.
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