My boss fired me because COVID symptoms weren’t ‘acceptable’ reason to miss work

    A UK bartender claims she was fired after her manager said showing symptoms of coronavirus was not an “acceptable” reason to be off work.

    Rachael Baylis said she had been working at The Walrus pub in Brighton for three months before she developed a cough and a fever, and later tested positive for COVID-19.

    The 22-year-old took a lateral flow test the day after she developed symptoms, which was negative. 

    But to be on the safe side and to protect other members of staff, she arranged a PCR test and decided to isolate until she’d received the results.

    However, emails that she says are from her boss show him demanding she work as normal that evening — until her PCR test result comes through.

    Baylis said her boss told her showing symptoms wasn’t an “acceptable” reason to not turn up for her shift.

    Furious Baylis offered her notice of resignation, but the messages appear to show her manager refusing to accept and instead sacking her for “showing a clear lack of respect” toward management.

    Government guidance says anyone with a high temperature, new, continuous cough or loss of smell or taste should “self-isolate straightaway and get a PCR test.”

    Rachael Baylis let her job know she would not be at work because she was experiencing COVID symptoms.
    Kennedy News and Media

    The results of her PCR test have since come back, and Baylis said she has got COVID. 

    The City Pub Group said it was “aware of allegations that the company’s well-established COVID-19 safety protocols were not followed” and confirmed it is urgently investigating the incident.

    Baylis, from Worcester, said: “I wasn’t upset or sad, I was just angry. How can they get away with this? How can they force sick staff to come in?

    Rachael's boss does not believe COVID symptoms is an acceptable reason to miss work.
    Although Rachael Baylis was experiencing COVID symptoms, her boss did not believe that was a valid excuse to skip work.
    Kennedy News and Media

    “It’s a public health concern. They don’t respect sickness and health — I couldn’t get out of bed and they wanted me to go into work.

    “I wasn’t going to risk other members of staff and customers.”

    The manager’s messages state the reasons for firing Baylis were that she showed lack of respect for management, had threatened to walk out of her shift the day before, and sat outside before her shift had finished.

    Rachael disagreed with her boss on coming into work.
    Rachael Baylis was not comfortable coming into the workplace with COVID symptoms.
    Kennedy News and Media

    Baylis began showing symptoms of COVID while at work on Tuesday and says she went outside to get some fresh air.

    Emails between the pair show Baylis explaining that she wouldn’t be coming in to work to avoid infecting other members of staff and, after that was disputed, offering her resignation before she was dismissed.

    Baylis wrote: “I am not personally comfortable coming in whilst unwell and with potential to spread to both customers and staff which would make staffing very difficult should all of us get it.

    Another employee experienced COVID symptoms before Rachael.
    Another employee at the Pub experienced COVID symptoms too.
    Kennedy News and Media

    “I will have my PCR tests back tomorrow and I will try to find someone to cover my shift but I will not be coming in for the benefit of not spreading anything to the remaining team.

    “If you still wish to understand my reasons then consider this my notice.”

    Her manager responded: “I do not accept your resignation due to the below issues I was going to discuss with you in person today at the start of your shift before terminating your probation period.

    Rachael is banned from going to the bar.
    Baylis’ boss prohibited her from coming to the establishment for the next three months.
    Kennedy News and Media

    “You have shown a clear lack of respect for management requests/procedures over the last week which reached tipping point last night.

    “You threatened to walk out numerous times last night.

    “Changed clothes and sat outside before you were told by the shift manager you could finish.”

    The company is investigating the situation.
    The company is investigating the situation between Rachael Baylis and her boss.
    Kennedy News / The Walrus / Face

    Baylis said: “Lucikly I’m in a position where I could say f–k this job.

    “I’ve tried to follow as many rules as possible but it’s been hard to do that, financially.

    “Because I work in a pub, I’m around people a lot and I’ve had to isolate a few times which has meant I’ve lost money. I’m glad I stuck to my guns.”

    Rachael Baylis is no longer working at The Walrus.
    Rachael Baylis said she’s lucky she’s in a position to leave this job.
    Kennedy News and Media

    A spokesperson for The City Pub Group said: “The City Pub Group is aware of allegations that the company’s well-established COVID-19 safety protocols were not followed at our Brighton pub The Walrus, in relation to isolation arrangements for one of our team members.

    “As a company we place paramount importance on the health and welfare of our colleagues and customers, particularly during the ongoing pandemic challenges. This takes precedence over any other considerations.

    “We are now urgently investigating all aspects of this situation to understand precisely what has happened and what needs to be done in response.

    The City Pub Group claims they follow government guidance on COVID-19.
    The City Pub Group confirms it has complied with the government’s guidance on managing the risk of COVID-19.
    Kennedy News / The Walrus / Face

    “We do not wish to make any further comments on next steps until the facts of the case have been established clearly.”

    This story originally appeared on the Sun and has been reproduced here with permission.


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