Covid-suffering bartender ‘fired after refusing to come into work’

Covid-suffering bartender ‘fired after refusing to come into work’

Rachael Baylis had been working at the Walrus in Brighton for three months when her PCR test came back positive.

On Tuesday, she got a cough and a fever and begged to leave early.

Instead of being informed this was fine, she was advised to find cover.
She said she worked despite being sick since she received a negative lateral flow test.

After learning that a coworker had tested positive the next day, she texted her manager to say she was still sick, had scheduled a PCR test, and would not be coming in.
‘Please note that missing your shift tonight is not acceptable.'

Rachael, 22, said lateral flow tests are ‘notoriously unreliable' and she had two out of three Covid symptoms.

‘I am not comfortable coming in while ill, as it could spread to both customers and staff, making staffing problematic,' she said.

‘If you still do not comprehend my motives, please take attention.'

‘I do not accept your resignation due to the following problems.'

‘I was going to discuss terminating your probation with you today at the start of your shift.

Over the previous week you have showed an obvious disregard for management requests/procedures, culminating last night.

‘You threatened to leave repeatedly last night.'

You changed and sat outside before the shift manager said you could finish.'

Rachael, a Philosophy, Politics, and Ethics graduate from Worcester, said she walked outdoors to get some air since she was sick and ordered not to go home.

‘I told management I was sick and sat outside for some fresh air in my jumper,' she added.

‘I threatened to leave then. As soon as I arrived, I was called a s**t. ‘I was coughing too.'

Many of people she treated on Tuesday, including a group of estate agents, now risk contracting the illness.

She said her manager fired her for reasons mostly linked to her not wanting to work due to illness.

‘I shouldn't have worked, but I was afraid of losing my job,' she claimed.

She hoped to work double shifts during Christmas to help pay the rent.

‘Now I'm going to miss Christmas and lose money,' she remarked.

She claimed the bar had a ‘toxic work culture' that ‘put individuals in risk' by pressuring sick people to come in.
She was dismissed after indicating she would resign if forced to work unwell.
People were asked to report to work to verify they were sick, she added.

‘If you are unwell and can't work your shift, you must cover it.'

You must come in if you cannot acquire cover or we will send you home. The bar will pay for your cab fare in and out.'

Rachael, who will return to work in recruitment in the new year, believes her experience reflects the plight of many hospitality workers throughout the pandemic.

For example, she wants all workers to be guaranteed sufficient sick pay and worker rights from day one, not only after two years.

It comes amid calls for additional government help for pubs and eateries, which are losing dozens of bookings as Omicron cases grow.

‘Hi Rachel,' Alan Endres wrote in an email. To get signed off work, you must do an LFT. If it's positive, schedule a PCR and isolate until the results.
She tried to get a replacement, but another worker said they had gone in despite symptoms.