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Woman sacked for self-isolating gets £7,000 payout from former boss

Judge In Gloves To Protect From Coronavirus Writing On Paper
The diabetic shop worker was told she had ‘abandoned her job without notice, without regard to the other employees or to the business’ (Picture: Getty Images/iStockphoto)

A diabetic shop worker who was sacked for self-isolating at the start of the pandemic has been awarded £7,000.

Jackie Reid stayed at home after her GP warned her Type 1 diabetes would make her more vulnerable to the virus.

She told her boss, Kirsten Bennett, at the Good Health Store on the Isle of Man that she needed to self-isolate for 14 days, and that it could go on for 12 weeks, a tribunal heard.

Mrs Reid offered to return to work immediately after isolating for two weeks, but Ms Bennett ‘reacted negatively and rejected this, saying she had no other choice’ but to dismiss her, a tribunal heard.

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During her evidence, Ms Bennett said Mrs Reid had ‘abandoned her job without notice, without regard to the other employees or to the business’.

Ms Bennett even argued Mrs Reid could have been sued for a breach of contract.

But tribunal chairman Douglas Stewart rejected the notion, saying that had she read the law she would have saved herself ‘considerable time, worry and expense’.

Mr Stewart and the panel awarded Mrs Reid a total of £7,161.

In his ruling, Mr Stewart said: ‘Ms Bennett had taken the view that it was she who was the victim.

‘In her opinion, and as she testified, she could have sued the complainant for breach of contract because the complainant had abandoned her by walking out with no indication of when she would return.

‘That approach is wrong in law. Had Ms Bennett not been so confident of her opinion on the law and had she checked with MIRS [Manx Industrial Relations Service], she might have saved herself considerable time, worry and expense.’

Mrs Reid said the experience had left her ‘scared to go back out to look for work’.

She added: ‘I want this to go public as I don’t want this to happen to someone else. If someone else is in the position I was, then fight it.’

However, Ms Bennett intends to appeal the decision.

Speaking after the ruling, she said: ‘We are disappointed with the outcome and intend to appeal against the decision. It has been a very difficult time for everybody, most people have someone to protect, if not themselves.

‘We are grateful to all the essential workers who did go to work in the hospital, schools and the shops ensuring the food supply.

‘Their commitment has allowed the island to achieve its current standing.’

Get in touch with our news team by emailing us at [email protected].

For more stories like this, check our news page.

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