I got fired from my pub job after refusing to come in to work with Covid symptoms
Now she’s planning to take them to court
22-year-old Brighton grad, Rachael Baylis, was fired from her pub job after she refused to come into work with symptoms of Covid.
Rachael had been doing shifts on the bar at the Walrus in Brighton for three months before she tested positive for the virus on Wednesday. She reported symptoms of a cough and fever on Tuesday, but was told she couldn’t leave work without finding cover.
“I was working Saturday, Sunday and Monday, so I must’ve caught in sometime then”, she told The Tab.
“When I said I wasn’t feeling well and asked to leave, they just said ‘have you got anyone to cover you?’ and wouldn’t let me go. It just makes no sense why you would put customers at risk and force me to be there.”
Rachael told the Tab that she was forced to continue with her shift despite feeling unwell.
But after finding out the next day that a colleague had tested positive, she messaged her manager saying that she was still ill, had arranged a PCR test and would not be coming in.
The general manager replied to her in an email: “Hi Rachel, Company policy is that you need to do a LFT to get signed off work. If that is positive you book a PCR and isolate until you get the results.”
“Please note the below is not acceptable to not come in for your shift tonight.”
Rachael said she replied saying that lateral flow tests are “notoriously unreliable” and that she was displaying two out of three of the Covid symptoms recognised by the NHS.
“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,” she said.
“If you still wish to refuse 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.
“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.
“You are also not allowed not allowed back in the Walrus as a customer for the next three months.”
Rachael said the reasons her manager gave for firing her were almost all related to the shift she hadn’t wanted to work due to illness.
“I shouldn’t have been working, but I was scared of losing my job so I went in anyway,” she said.
She had been hoping to do shifts over Christmas to get double pay and a bonus to help with rent. “Now I’m going to miss Christmas anyway – and not even make money from it,” she said.
Rachael told The Tab how this particular issue is emblematic of a wider problem in society where student workers get taken advantage of in the workplace. Not only that, but she said the pub had a “toxic” work culture which means this type of thing could easily happen again.
“I was talking to my co-worker and she just told me I was taking it too far”, she said. “I was like he is literally committing a crime and it’s me that’s taking it too far?”
Rachael said that she is now planning on taking them to court: “I just feel like when I go to court and look the general manager in the eye, that’ll be the first time he ever acknowledges me as a person. He never treated me like a human being or respected me.”
Not only that, but Rachael told The Tab how she had just got off the phone from the NHS track and track service – “yeah I told them all about it – so they’re about to slap that place with a £10,000 fine. Karma’s a bitch.”
Rachael who is due to start a new job on Monday – all about “humanising the world of work” – said that it’s important for students to know their rights and join a union. For example, she pointed out how you can self-certify sick for 7 days without a doctors note. “It’s important students are fully aware of the rights they have”, she said.
Rachael added: “Yeah, they tried to make me work when sick – but they really chose the wrong bitch to do it to. They deserve it.”
The Walrus said the matter was now with their HR department and they did not wish to comment.