CCMAGroundUp reports that a laboratory analyst fired for putting her family’s safety first and refusing to work during the Covid-19 level five lockdown has been reinstated.  

The Commission for Conciliation, Mediation and Arbitration (CCMA) noted that she had been afraid of infecting her elderly mother and her asthmatic son, but found that essential services company Parmalat had been more concerned about “creating a possible precedent” than about its employee’s circumstances.  The employee, identified as Ms Beck, had been employed with the company from July 2010. She was dismissed at the end of April 2020 after a disciplinary inquiry found her guilty of being absent without leave for 21 days.  She testified that while she respected the company’s call for its employees to work during level five lockdown, she had feared exposing her child and her mother to Covid-19.  She said her manager was aware of this.  She asked for leave, but it was denied. She then offered to take unpaid leave, but this was also denied.  She then decided to stay home.  According to the employee, sanitiser and physical distancing were in place, but personal protective equipment was not provided at that time.  Commissioner Naledi Bisiwe found that Ms Beck had a reasonable excuse for her absence, even though she was contractually obliged to work.  She ruled that the dismissal had been substantively unfair and that Ms Beck must be reinstated.

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