Argos offer an uplift in wages – provided agency workers don’t go off sick

Temporary workers on the minimum wage at an Argos warehouse have been offered an 80p per hour uplift in their wages in the run up to Christmas. This pre-Christmas bonus will only be awarded if they don’t go off sick.

Argos’ move raises the question of whether these arrangements may result in indirect discrimination against workers. It appears that the intention is that if a worker calls in sick for one day, they will lose their uplift for the entire week  – and will then start again the following week.

Argos could potentially face legal challenge if any of their workers suffer with chronic illness or have a disability that causes them to take sick leave. Argos will need to consider the circumstances of each person who takes a day sick leave. They must then  then determine whether this is because of a disability, and if their new measure could affect them more than someone who is not disabled.

Argos have commented that the reason for the uplift is to ensure they can meet higher demand and to deliver unbeatable customer experience during the Christmas period.

This is a very public reminder that, even where an organisation intends a policy to be a neutral measure, it can still be discriminatory if not applied diligently and assessed on a case by case basis.