For hygiene reasons, many shops haven’t been taking cash payments, but this bakery worker couldn’t bear to see their elderly customers who wanted to pay with cash leave empty handed.
In light of the ongoing health crisis, shops have been limiting the amount of cash they handle to stop the spreading of germs. However, this rule fails to take into account people who do not have credit or debit cards; elderly people in particular.
Birds Bakery in Nottinghamshire, UK, used to take cash prior to the pandemic, and welcomed many elderly customers. However, when new rules were brought in, workers like Megan Metcalfe would see people having to leave the shop with nothing because they didn’t have a credit or debit card.
Struggling to turn people away, Megan, 60, took it upon herself to personally accept the cash off customers and pay for their items with her own card instead. While her heart was in the right place, her actions got Megan fired from Birds Bakery, where she had worked for 40 years.
The bakery business said it was ‘with regret’ they had to let their longstanding employee go.
I realise what I was doing was against company policy. But they had picked up the items and already gotten to the till ready to buy them.
There’s no way I could let an elderly man or woman walk away telling them they could not buy it because they didn’t have a card. They had also already handled the stock so that would have to be binned or cleaned.
Megan says she took around £180 of payments in cash and put them through on her card, and has kept receipts of the transactions.
After the bakery found out about Megan’s actions, she was suspended with full pay for a week and attended a disciplinary hearing a week later, where she was sacked.
Speaking about her dismissal, she said:
I was just trying to do the right thing. I am really upset by it of course. I worked at Birds for 44 years and 25 of them as a manager. I was told I was endangering staff members’ lives by doing what I did.
At no point did money transfer hands. It was straight into my purse and then I put the payment through on card and showed them the receipt. I should not have done it but I don’t like to let people down and a lot of these customers depend on us, coming to us every day.
The CEO of Birds Bakery, Lesley Bird, said that the business takes the safety of its staff and customers ‘very seriously’.
A lot of our customer base are the elderly – many of them vulnerable – and it is our responsibility to keep them, and our staff, safe. Like many other food outlets, during this pandemic we have asked customers to only use debit cards because notes and coins are not clean – and this poses a risk to our staff who are handling that money.
She added that Megan’s actions went against both the company’s policy as well as current COVID-19 safety guidelines.
There’s currently an online petition campaigning for Megan to get her job back. It’s received almost 3,000 signatures in just 24 hours.