Now that flu season is around the corner, you might notice that more of your staffers are coming to work sniffling, feverish or otherwise incapacitated.
It’s not your imagination. Two-thirds of restaurant employees responding to a recent study said they had worked while sick in the previous year.
That figure, just released by Restaurant Opportunities Centers United (motto: dedicated to winning improved conditions for restaurant workers everywhere) is probably not surprising, given some other findings of the survey. Nearly nine out of 10 workers said had no paid sick days, and about the same number reported having no health coverage through their employers. More than half—61 percent--said they had no health insurance, period.
The study, “Serving While Sick: High Risk & Low Benefits for the Nation’s Restaurant Workforce, and Their Impact on the Consumer,” was based on a survey of more than 4,000 foodservice workers and interviews with employers. It found that more than 90 percent of employees avoid doctor visits because they cannot afford medical care, and more than half avoid getting prescriptions filled. This was so despite some of the occupational hazards inherent in restaurant jobs: 46 percent of respondents said they had been burned on the job and 49 percent reported sustaining cuts while at work.
“Restaurants should offer workers safer places to work, and workers should have access to benefits including health insurance, paid sick days and workers’ compensation insurance,” says ROC United director Saru Jayaraman. “Without these improvements, the industry will continue to put both workers and consumers at risk.”
ROC United and Rep. Rosa DeLauro (D-CT) held a congressional briefing about the report on Sept. 30. It was submitted in support of the Healthy Families Act, which would require all employers to provide sick days to their workers.