A change to Sainsbury’s Covid absence policy that will come into force on 1 May puts both workers and shoppers at risk, Unite, the UK’s leading union, said today (Friday 29 April).

Currently Sainsbury’s staff who have Covid are entitled to sick leave that does not count towards the total amount of time they can be absent before a disciplinary procedure can be triggered. 

Regardless of the reason, if a Sainsbury’s worker does not attend work for more than three per cent of their annual contracted hours (approximately a week and a half) they may be subject to sanction or dismissal. 

Under the new policy, the three per cent limit now includes time off due to Covid. The policy also allows staff to attend work if they are infected with Covid. 

Unite national officer Bev Clarkson said: “Sainsbury’s new Covid policy puts both workers and shoppers at risk. It means that vulnerable customers could be served by a cashier infected with Covid who has no choice but to come to work because to stay off would trigger a disciplinary. At risk staff also face the same dangers. 

“Staff who have Covid will be put in a horrible position and workers and shoppers will be needlessly exposed. While the worst of the pandemic may be over, official data shows Covid is still killing hundreds of people a week – Sainsbury’s needs to remember that. Unite urges Sainsbury’s to put its staff and customers first and scrap this policy.”


For media enquires ONLY contact Unite communications officer Ryan Fletcher on 07849 090215.

Email: [email protected]  

Twitter: @unitetheunion Facebook: unitetheunion1 Instagram: unitetheunion

Web: unitetheunion.org 

Unite is Britain and Ireland’s largest union with members working across all sectors of the economy. The general secretary is Sharon Graham.