A woman with type 1 diabetes who was sacked for self-isolating at the start of the COVID-19 pandemic has been awarded a tribunal payout.

Jackie Reid, who was dismissed from her role at the Good Health Store in the Isle of Man, is to receive £7,000.

Following advice from her GP, Jackie told her boss Kirsten Bennett, that she had been told to self-isolate for 14 days, but that period could extend to 12 weeks.

Mrs Reid told the tribunal that she had offered to work immediately after the self-isolation period, but Ms Bennett “reacted negatively and rejected this, saying she had no other choice” but to dismiss her.

However, Ms Bennett defended her actions during the tribunal saying Mrs Reid “abandoned her job without notice, without regard to the other employees or to the business”.

She even suggested that her former employee was in breach of her contract.

Tribunal chairman Douglas Stewart did not agree.

During his ruling, he 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, whose husband is also deemed vulnerable to COVID-19 because of his age, 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.”

In the forum:

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.”

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