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Extra Pay for Healthy Workers at Argos

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Agency workers engaged by Argos over the Christmas period are to be offered an additional 80p per hour if they are able to work over the festive period without any sickness absence. The workers have been advised that if they fail to attend for work at any stage over the Christmas period, the additional payment will not be awarded. Argos have suggested that the incentive has been put in place to enhance customer satisfaction over the busy Christmas season.

Danielle Lister, Partner at Chattertons, has confirmed that the proposal could present some unintended legal issues.  “Whilst Argos are attempting incentivise their seasonal workers to achieve 100 percent attendance levels during a busy time of year with the payment of an extra payment, this practice could in fact pose some legal problems for the retailer.  In particular, if any worker suffers with a disability and as a result of this is unable to achieve the additional pay, they would be placed at a direct disadvantage when compared to their (non-disabled) colleagues.  If this were to happen, the worker is likely to have a claim of breach of UK employment/discrimination law”.

Whilst incentives to encourage high attendance levels are permissible in UK employment law, companies need to ensure that such schemes are not operated indiscriminately and without consideration of how certain groups of people might be affected.  Businesses should ensure that those employees with protected characteristics (such as a disability) are not put to any disadvantage through the operation of such schemes.