Did you know that more than 20% of all food service workers go to work – at least once in 12 months – while sick with vomiting or diarrhea? If that doesn’t get your attention, then I don’t know what will! And, COVID-19 has ramped up the degree of worry about sick employees showing up at work by a hundredfold.
The rallying cry: It is time for all workers to receive paid sick leave. Restaurants, retailers, and other industries that rely on low-wage labor must stop resisting paid sick leave. Period. No excuses. The logic is straightforward—companies that do not pay sick workers to stay home are endangering co-employees, customers, and the public health. The New York Times has quoted studies that prove that paying sick employees to stay home significantly reduces the spread of the seasonal flu.
Now, how critical are the results of those studies when we are trying to stop the spread of COVID-19?
According to that same New York Times article, here are a sampling of the culprits: McDonald’s, Walmart, Dunkin Donuts, Target, Dollar General, Chick-fil-A, Olive Garden, Whole Foods, Petco, Lowe’s, Trader Joe’s, and Nordstrom.
The recently-passed $2 trillion stimulus package will provide paid sick leave to a percentage of workers. But—and it is a very big BUT—employers with more than 500 employees (like all of the above culprits) and employers with under 50 employees who request a waiver, are exempt. It should not take a federal law. It should not take a pandemic. Our employees are the reason we pay our bills. Let’s all help them pay their bills. Stay home. Stay safe.