Landscape gardener, 29, ‘was threatened with sack for self-isolating to protect seriously ill stepson’ as hundreds of warehouse, office and call-centre staff are forced to work despite coronavirus lockdown
- Adam Dobbs was threatened with sack by Firtree after he was told to self-isolate
- He has an ill five-year-old stepson suffering from a very rare genetic disease
- The gardener was following UK orders before Boris Johnson plunged Britain into a draconian lockdown in response to the coronavirus pandemic
- It comes as over 1,000 people wrote to MP committee about being told to continue going to work despite plea to stay at home ‘where possible’
- **Have you been sacked for self-isolating? Email [email protected]**
- Coronavirus symptoms: what are they and should you see a doctor?
A landscape gardener says he was threatened with the sack after health chiefs urged him to self-isolate to protect his seriously ill stepson.
Adam Dobbs, 29, received an email from UK authorities instructing him to stay indoors amid fears of the spreading coronavirus on Monday – hours before Boris Johnson plunged the country into an unprecedented draconian lockdown.
But when he explained the situation to his employer, he claims he was fired without explanation.
It comes as more than 1,000 people contacted a committee of MPs raising concerns about being told to continue going to work despite the plea for non-key workers to stay home to halt the spread of the infection.
Those who have been forced to go in say fear they are unable to follow Government instructions on social distancing as pictures emerged showing ‘cramped’ conditions at Matalan warehouse on Merseyside.
In Mr Dobbs’ case, the government wrote to him warning that unless he stopped leaving the house he risked bringing the deadly infection home, putting his five-year-old stepson Leo Mitchell, who has Infantile Pompe disease, in danger.
Concerned, the gardener contacted his bosses at Firtree Landscapes to discuss his options. Hours later, he was fired without an explanation.
Adam Dobbs was threatened with the sack after Government health chiefs instructed the landscape gardener to self-isolate to save his ill five-year-old stepson (pictured)
In a message to Mr Dobbs, Firtree said: ‘Apologies for this email, but I have been trying to contact you on the phone.
‘I am writing to terminate your contract of employment with effect from close of play yesterday, this is due to not following company policies and procedures.
‘Once I have all the necessary information together, I will formally write to you.’
Mr Dobbs, who lives in Bebington with his 26-year-old wife Kara, has blasted the ‘evil’ decision to sack him amid the coronavirus pandemic.
He told the Liverpool Echo: ‘This is unfair dismissal on the grounds of discrimination.
‘What they have done is unnecessary, I don’t know what their problem is, they’ve left me and my family out in the cold at a time of national crisis.
‘They have not explained about this failure to follow policy and procedures.’
Mr Dobbs has two children from a different relationship, and lives with three himself, aged five, three and one, in his current Wirral home.
Since the Liverpool Echo reported Mr Dobbs’ predicament, MailOnline understands that Firtree Landscapes will no longer be firing their employee.
Mr Dobbs, who lives in Bebington with his 26-year-old wife Kara, has blasted the ‘evil’ decision by Firtree to sack him amid the escalating coronavirus pandemic
Meanwhile, hundreds of workers have replied to an appeal for information by the Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy Committee.
Their concerns include not being offered enough support at work, or why some workers have been told they are key to the national Covid-19 response.
Rachel Reeves, who chairs the committee, said: ‘From the evidence we’ve received it’s clear that many businesses are still not doing the right thing.’
Have you been sacked for self-isolating? Email [email protected]
She continued: ‘This must change now. This is a health emergency – it cannot be business as usual.
‘Workplaces, even those deemed essential, should be doing all they can to ensure that their workers are able to work from home or, if they do have to attend work, that they can undertake social distancing.
‘The Government came forward with an income replacement scheme – there can be no question of workers being, in effect, forced to take annual or sick-leave when they are doing the right thing and keeping themselves safe.
‘Businesses need to stand by their workers and keep them safe.
‘In time, businesses will have to answer for their decisions during this pandemic and whether they did the right thing.’
Those contacting the MPs work in a range of sectors, including office-based staff, furniture manufacturers, estate agents, law firms, and TV engineers.
An estate agent said he has to work in the office, even though this involves using public transport, and continue to go on viewings where sellers will allow them.
A worker at a debt collection firm said the business was open as usual.
‘It scares us all to be there. It is a call centre environment and social distancing is near impossible,’ the panicked worker revealed.
A TV engineer questioned why his job was classed as ‘key’, saying: ‘Our forums have been full of engineers disputing this’.
Staff in ‘state of panic’ as image shows workers crammed inside Matalan warehouse corridor
Matalan has come under fire as workers were photographed in cramped conditions, raising fears they are unable to keep to social distancing rules
Shocking pictures have emerged of workers packed together at a Matalan warehouse on Merseyside.
The first picture revealed staff crowding inside the distribution centre in Kirkby – an image Matalan described as ‘concerning’.
Another image shows staff in a crowded corridor waiting to use the ‘clocking in machine’, with new social distancing rules appearing to be ignored.
While all non-essential shops have been forced to close under strict new measures announced on Monday, there are currently no requirements for distribution and online operations to stop.
There are, however, rules about social distancing, including extra handwashing and keeping a 2m distance at all times, as well as working from home where possible for those firms.
One employee said it was ‘almost impossible’ to keep the 2m distance, and claimed that hand gel dispensers were not being refilled: ‘I am appalled Matalan, a company supposedly founded on “family values”, are taking such little care of their employees. Matalan is not an essential business; the job role of Matalan employees is not on the key worker list.’
GMB, the union responsible for many workers, called the reports and images ‘worrying’, describing conditions as ‘cramped and overcrowded’.
GMB, the union responsible for many workers, called the reports and images ‘worrying’, describing conditions as ‘cramped and overcrowded’
The union’s regional organiser, Shaun Buckley, said: ‘I have been inundated with emails and phone calls from worried GMB members who are in a state of panic that Matalan bosses are putting workers and their families’ lives at risk.
‘Such blatant disregard for member’s welfare and Government rules must not be allowed to continue. We need urgent action from the Government to stop employers flaunting the rules. I want to reassure members that GMB is using every available means to force Matalan to do the right thing.’
Last night, Liverpool’s City Mayor Joe Anderson also made his feelings known on Twitter, when he slammed companies who he said were ‘flouting coronavirus rules’, adding that he was ‘absolutely appalled’.
His tweets were directed at both construction firm Laing O’Rourke, which is building Liverpool’s new Royal Hospital, and Matalan. Your workforce and their families need to be treated safely. Trading Standards will be used to enforce using every available means to force Matalan to do the right thing.’
On Wednesday evening, Metro Mayor Steve Rotheram said he was ‘very concerned’ by some of the images coming out of the Knowsley warehouse.
He said: ‘My message to them is simple: you have a duty to protect your workforce during this crisis – profits should not come before people.’
Matalan has said staff safety and welfare ‘remains our absolute priority’.
Since Sunday, the company said it had taken extra precautions that include suspending usual check-in and check-out processes, security checks and collective team briefings, and expanding the area available for staff to take their breaks – which are now staggered.
The firm said it had ‘a number of precautions in place’ including social distancing rules, breaks for handwashing, and increased cleaning for staff.
A statement from Matalan said: ‘Along with the whole of the retail industry, we currently find ourselves in a new world, whereby, following Government instruction, we are operating online-only to serve our customers.
‘However, the safety and welfare of our colleagues remains our absolute priority. Over the past few days, we have introduced significant measures to protect our employees who continue to work in our Distribution Centres.
‘We are confident that the steps we have taken go above and beyond all guidance provided to date by the Government and Public Health England.
‘We are monitoring the unfolding situation extremely closely and await further guidance from the Government.’
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