Yes, it's not quiteThe Walking Dead. But the working sick are apparently taking their own toll on civilized society — not out of selfishness, but desperation and due to what some are calling an unjust business sector.
We received a press release today via ROC United (Restaurant Opportunities Centers United) with a link to their 2010 report "Serving While Sick." This was in response to news last week of a Houston-based Subway employee fired after reportedly being forced to work sick.
From the release, here's the worrisome data:
The issue of working while sick is endemic to the restaurant industry due to an overwhelming lack of paid sick days:
- According to our national report, Serving While Sick, of more than 4,000 workers surveyed, more than 87% of restaurant workers surveyed report not having paid sick days and more than 60% reported working while sick.
- The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has identified restaurants as the leading sources of foodborne disease outbreaks — overwhelming caused by norovirus.
- Due to lack of paid sick days and poverty wages, restaurant workers often work while sick to avoid missing a day of pay. The base wage for tipped workers is as low as $2.13 an hour, resulting in servers using food stamps at double the rate of the rest of the workforce and being three-times as likely to live in poverty.
In response to the rising popularity of local paid sick days legislation around the country, the National Restaurant Association has also come out strongly in support of state level preemption bills that forbid cities from instituting paid sick day and wage laws entirely, successfully shepherding preemption legislation through nine states, and has helped introduce preemption legislation in seven more.
“There are easily more than 10 million restaurant workers in the U.S. With over half having had to work while sick — that’s more than 5 million people who should be at home recovering but instead are touching, preparing, and serving food to the public because they don’t have paid sick days, fear losing their jobs, or just can’t afford to take a day off because their pay is already so low,” said Saru Jayaraman, co-director and co-founder of Restaurant Opportunities Centers United. “The National Restaurant Association’s opposition to paid sick days for restaurant workers is a public health disaster; we can point to the restaurant industry as the source of stomach flu every single season.”
For more on the Subway employee, here's the news story: