Well here’s what happens when the majority of restaurants have call in policies such as this or oppose offering health benefits to their employees such as stated here.
In the news during the last couple weeks there were articles and newscasts reporting the Norovirus outbreaks that have been attributed to The Olive Garden restaurants.
Locally there was an outbreak at Trostel’s Greenbriar (excellent dining btw) and the same employee was found working at The West End Diner (not so excellent), article here.
Well enough with the hyper linking for now.
My point is this, many restaurants make employees feel obligated to report to workif they are ill.
If I were to call in to work with vomiting or diarrhea the assumption from my management staff would be that I am nothing more than hungover and need to get my ass to work.
This can be applied to anyone that works in many restaurants, particularly corporate chains.
Personally I have worked for three corporate restaurants and the staff was intimidated into coming in sick with the threat of termination or write ups at all places, my peers can attest to the same treatment where they have worked.
In the restaurant environment if you do stay home ill you are virtually marked as a troublemaker and risk losing shifts and prime sections as “punishment” for the crime of falling sick.
As well there is no sick pay, so if you stay home you lose out on a shifts pay.
You might be required to go to the doctor to bring a note excusing yourself from work, never mind that health insurance is often not offered and that a simple doctor visit can cost $150 just for them to tell us we’re sick.
But really that’s noting I haven’t said before.
So what do most of us do?
We suck it up.
We go to work with sore throats, the flu, bronchitis, diarrhea and what have you.
We’re told to wash our hands often (which we should do)
But in most cases, when half a dozen people touch your food before it gets to your table, this approach is just a feel good safety method.
So what happens is the customer and other staff members fall sick when we either are forced to work or can’t afford to take off.
Most of the time it is a simple cold bug that gets around, no one traces these things back to restaurants because they aren’t that much of a risk.
Hell, I’ve seen half or a restaurant’s staff come down with a cold or the flu, I wonder how many of the customers came down with it as well?
But when a Norovirus, E. Coli or Salmonella outbreak hits it spreads fear which a head cold won't.
People are afraid of tainted spinach, lettuce, green onions or stomach flu and the restaurants that they are traced to.
Is it because some server, some cook didn’t wash their hands?
Or is it because the employees might lose their jobs or income because management can’t manage the shift when employees are ill?
So Olive Garden will lose many customer’s and the owners and investors will take a hit, servers will have less customers and the good reputation of a local restaurant will diminish.
They might have staff meetings reminding everyone to wash their hands, wear gloves and all of that common sense.
But at the end of the day when someone calls in sick they’ll be told…
“Either come in and work or you won’t have a job.”
The same thing that was said to me a several years back as a rookie server when I had the flu.
I came in.