Paid Sick Leave for Food Workers

Going to work sick can impact your recovery time, co-workers’ health, and potentially customers depending on the job. Sick food workers, regardless of the location of the worker in the food supply chain, can cause others to get sick. The Food Chain Workers Alliance’s new report shows that more than half of workers go to work sick. Handling food while sick can spread diseases like Hepatitis A, E. coli, Salmonella, and Shigella. The CDC estimates that 3,000 Americans die of foodborne disease each year.

Only Connecticut and a few cities have required paid sick leave for food service workers. To see where these laws are in place go here. Opponents argue that work schedule flexibility should be the answer rather than a mandate for paid sick leave. In a study by CDC, workers were less likely to go to work sick if:

  • The restaurant was less busy
  • There was a policy requiring workers to tell managers they were sick
  • There was a system of on-call workers who could fill vacant places
  • The workers manager was more experienced

Workers were more likely to work sick if:

  • The restaurant served more than 300 meals a day
  • There was no policy requiring workers to tell managers they were sick
  • They were male
  • A manager had less than 4 years of experience