Coronavirus: Greggs would pay staff who need to self-isolate

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Greggs said its vegan sausage roll had helped boost sales

Greggs boss Roger Whiteside has said his firm would pay staff who have to self-isolate because of coronavirus.

“Our default position is that we pay contract hours. We don’t have any zero contract hours,” he told the BBC.

The firm’s policy is in contrast to that of some others, which said they will only pay sick pay, although he added the policy could be reviewed if coronavirus became a “big problem”.

The comments came as Greggs posted a 13.5% rise in 2019 sales to £1.168bn.

The sandwich chain’s success was helped by the popularity of its new vegan range, but the baker saw a significant slowdown last month February as storms kept customers away.

And Greggs also cautioned there is some uncertainty in the outlook, particularly given the potential impact of coronavirus.

Pre-tax profits rose to £108.3m from £82.6m in 2018, the company said.

Statutory sick pay

Greggs’ policy for staff who are ordered to stay at home if they been in contact with an infected person is in contrast to some other companies.

Last week Wetherspoons, one of the UK’s biggest employers, said staff would be subject to regular statutory sick pay rules if they had to self-isolate.

Under statutory sick pay rules, an employee is not paid for the first three days of absence, and then only if they earn at least £118 a week.

Health Secretary Matt Hancock has sent guidance to UK employers telling them that staff who have been asked to self-isolate are entitled to take the time as sick leave.

Michele Piertney, of the independent arbitration service Acas, said people would not get sick leave as a matter of course if a medical expert put them into quarantine.

Many casual or agency workers may be entitled to sick pay, but self-employed people are not. Citizens Advice says people on zero-hours contracts can still get sick pay and should ask their employer.

‘Uncertain outlook’

The impact of coronavirus could hit Greggs’ figures in 2020.

“We made a very strong start to 2020 in January, but in February saw a significant slowdown in sales growth as a result of the storms that have affected the UK,” said Mr Whiteside.

“There is some uncertainty in the outlook, particularly given the potential impact of coronavirus. This aside we expect to make year-on-year progress and will do so from a strong financial position.”