Pimlico Plumbers founder Charlie Mullins has been criticised for saying people should not receive sick pay while quarantining at home after a holiday abroad.
Mr Mullins was speaking via video link from his home in Marbella to the Good Morning Britain studios. The Pimlico Plumbers boss, who last week sparked outrage after calling for the furlough scheme to be ended, said it was “incorrect” that people quarantining after a holiday receive £98 a week in sick pay if they cannot work from home.
“It’s going to cost £98 a week per person and it can go on for 28 weeks – let’s not kid anybody, they’re not sick, they’re aware of the circumstances when you set off and the deal is when you get back it’s 14 days’ quarantine,” he said said.
“So to start draining more money from the government is incorrect and send the country further backwards.
“We need to stop draining the money off the government and start getting back into the workplace.
“They’re not sick, sick pay means you’re sick,” he added.
'No way. They are not sick. Sick pay means you're sick and they are not sick.'@PimlicoPlumbers founder Charlie Mullins says people should not receive sick pay for quarantining when they return from abroad.
He says 'they knew the deal' when they went on holiday. pic.twitter.com/KFWIFd3kRy— Good Morning Britain (@GMB)August 14, 2020
GMB co-presenter Charlotte Hawkins argued that Mr Mullins should have sympathy for people just told about the quarantine rule change for holidays they had planned long in advance. “At one point the government were saying to go back to normal, people will have saved up hard, booked these holidays, gone out there to France and find themselves in a situation through no fault of their own and then the government says ‘If you don’t get back before four o’clock tomorrow morning you’re going to have to self-isolate," she said.
“You don’t think there should be any compensation from the government to make up for that?”
Mr Mullins responded that while the government had informed people of the new rules poorly, travellers should still take responsibility if they go on holidays to countries no longer on the quarantine exempt list. “I think the government should monitor it better and make people more aware when this quarantine is going to come in,” he said.
“But at the end of the day, we’re governed by the virus situation and we just have to accept, if you go abroad they can bring it in on any country.
“If you start paying people £100 a week to sit at home and do nothing, we’re back to square one."
GMB co-presenter Sean Fletcher suggested that Mr Mullins might not be aware of how difficult it can be for people with less money than him. “It’s all very well for you, is that a swimming pool behind you?" he said.
“You’ve got lots of money! You can do it, but other people are on the breadline. They can’t go without two weeks of work.”
Mr Mullins answered: "Yes, the swimming pool was paid for out of hard work not sitting at home doing nothing!
“We keep saying we should be more sympathetic with people. But we clearly know that when we go abroad now the quarantine situation may well come in.
“Surely you can’t expect the economy to keep bailing people out - people are not sick - they’ve gone on holiday and they know what the circumstances are.
“The deal is you sit at home for 14 days!”
Mr Mullins instead suggested that people should not go on their booked holidays and try to get them refunded instead.
"If they’ve got a choice not to go on their holiday and get their money back maybe that’s what they’ve got to do. But if we bring in sick pay for this circumstances you're going to find that people are going to be less fussy where they go they're going to take more risks and were go and were gonna have another nation of people going away because they can come back and get 100 quid a week to sit at home.
"Where do you draw the line on it? Where do we come up with some stage where we need to stand up and get the economy going and not keep draining it?"
Many viewers were outraged by Mr Mullins' comments, with some taking to Twitter to voice their disagreement.
"Why oh why is this bloody Charlie Mullins @PimlicoPlumbers back on my TV giving his ridiculous opinion again, the man is an obnoxious idiot!" one person wrote.
— Nichola D (@Nicholstix)August 14, 2020
Another wrote: "Charlie Mullins sitting in his Marbella mansion saying his swimming pool was paid for by hard work, yes the hard work of his exploited work force at Pimlico Plumbers, what a foul human being he is. The personification of all that's wrong with this country right now!"
Charlie Mullins sitting in his Marbella mansion saying his swimming pool was paid for by hard work, yes the hard work of his exploited work force at Pimlico Plumbers, what a foul human being he is. The personification of all that's wrong with this country right now! #Quarantine— 🕷 Amanda (@AmandaCass6)August 14, 2020
However, other Twitter users praised Mr Mullins, saying they agreed with his views.
@GMB totally agree with Charlie Mullins we should not be paying people to have another two weeks off. We cannot as a country afford this. The man is talking sense.— sheila thomas (@sheilapthomas)August 14, 2020
Another added: "#charliemullins is bang on. These people have made an informed decision to go in holiday during a global pandemic. Why should companies pay SSP? That's a risk the individual takes by going in the 1st place. I had a holiday booked and paid for, decided not to go!"
#charliemullins is bang on. These people have made an informed decision to go in holiday during a global pandemic. Why should companies pay SSP? That's a risk the individual takes by going in the 1st place.
I had a holiday booked and paid for, decided not to go!— Rob Fergus (@rob_ferg88)August 14, 2020
Transport Secretary Grant Shapps yesterday announced that six more countries, including France and the Netherlands, have been added to the UK's travel quarantine list, meaning that from Saturday Brits must isolate for 14 days after visiting them.