Food Poisoning Case Traced to Sick Leave Policies

As if the headaches that restaurant chain Chipotle has been experiencing over the past year haven’t been bad enough, a recent outbreak of norovirus at one of the chain’s Virginia restaurants is now being blamed on a failure to enforce sick leave polices.

In a recent article by Valerie Bolden-Barret on the HR Dive website, workers at the specific restaurant claim that supervisors insisted that employees work while they were sick even though the restaurant offers paid sick leave for them.

Because of cellphone video that was released online by other workers at Chipotle locations, a number of unsafe and unsanitary conditions at those restaurants were revealed.  The videos went viral. Chipotle management said that while these things were legitimate complaints, the company blamed the supervisors for having failed to follow established company guidelines.

One of the protocols that Chipotle has put in place is that of hazard analysis critical control points (HACCPs). This protocol gives the responsibility to supervisors to screen workers daily in order to ensure that no one shows up on the job and works their shift while they’re ill.

Sick leave policies were put in place in order to ensure the health of employees and the public at large. In spite of this, however, many workers claim that they feel pressured by managers to work even when they are unwell. Even though employment experts almost unanimously agree that sick workers don’t perform their jobs well when they are sick, it’s implied that in order to maintain current productivity levels, they have to.  For part-time workers in the workplace, many of whom receive no sick leave benefits, making ends meet can often mean having to work, even while they’re sick.

In a study that was recently conducted by Staples Business Advantage 80% of those participating in the survey indicated that they even though they know the risk of infecting others, they will still come to work when they should be at home recovering instead.

The problem isn’t just something that affects Chipotle or the restaurant industry. Other companies such as Walmart for example, have implemented policies that penalize workers for taking sick leave. Recently Walmart employees filed a lawsuit against the company for this.  Online retail giant Amazon recently made headlines when it was discovered that they were paying German warehouse workers for not taking sick leave even though it’s provided for them.

The workers at any company or organization should be viewed as valuable assets. Companies that promote a culture of health can add add a whole lot more in terms of  productivity and value to their bottom line. Maintaining the overall health and well-being of your valuable human capital is both ethical and wise. Not allowing workers sick leave or other benefits that ensure they are healthy while at work can have an impact on productivity, profits and the entire culture of an organization.

At NetPEO, we understand how important it is to keep your workers both healthy and happy. Benefits such as sick leave exist to ensure that policies are put in place and potential problems can be eliminated or greatly limited. Allowing workers to take the time they need to get better before turning to work is an effective way of making that happen.

We offer a wide range of human resource and benefits management services which include payroll and benefits administration, liability management, brokerage services and employee leasing. Contact NetPEO to discuss your company’s current needs and to schedule a free assessment. We can help you with all of your employee needs and with guaranteed results.