California is poised to become the second state in the country to require paid sick leave for workers, an issue that has serious food safety implications for the restaurant industry.
Under the just-passed legislation, which is awaiting Gov. Jerry Brown’s signature (and he has already expressed support), California workers as of July 1, 2015, would be guaranteed at least three paid sick days a year.
More precisely, the bill requires businesses to grant employees one paid hour off for sick time for every 30 hours worked.
“Tonight, the Legislature took historic action to help hardworking Californians,” Brown said in a statement after the bill was passed on Aug. 30. ”This bill guarantees that millions of workers — from Eureka to San Diego — won’t lose their jobs or pay just because they get sick.”
Campaigners for restaurant worker sick pay say that many employees in the restaurant industry are more likely to work while sick if they do not have the privilege of paid sick time. In turn, sick restaurant workers have a higher chance of causing foodborne illnesses due to their contact with food.
In 2010, 88 percent of restaurant workers in a survey reported not receiving paid sick leave, according to Restaurant Opportunities Center United (ROC). ROC’s report, “Serving While Sick,” also found that 63 percent of workers reported cooking or serving food while sick at some point.
Another ROC report, “Backed into the Corner,” found that 48 percent of restaurant workers in the Miami-Dade area of Florida reported working while sick at some point, with 11 percent saying they experienced diarrhea or vomiting during a work shift. That report also found that workers were twice as likely to work while sick if they did not have paid sick time.
Once the bill is signed, California would be joining the state of Connecticut and cities such as Washington D.C., Seattle, WA, and Portland, OR, in requiring paid time off for illness.
The National Restaurant Association (NRA) and other business groups have lobbied against paid-sick-time legislation at the state and local level, saying that the one-size-fits-all legislation hurts businesses and threatens jobs.
Groups, including the NRA, have successfully helped pass laws to prevent new local paid-sick-leave legislation in 12 states.
© Food Safety News