HOME > Chowhound > Not About Food >


Yuck...I'm being waited on by a sick server!

I just refused service from a server who was sneezing and her nose was running and she was taking her arm to catch the drip..so frigging gross.
Isn't there a law against serving food to the public when sick?

Anyone else have similar experiences?

  1. Click to Upload a photo (10 MB limit)
  1. There's certainly no law against it, and unfortunately the nature of the business is that 99.9% of servers do not have any sick days so they are missing an entire day's worth of wages if they call off sick. Combine this with the fact that a LOT of restaurant managers are really nasty to you if you call off sick and that can play into your getting cut early and not getting very many tables for several weeks after taking one measly sick day, and it results in servers all coming to work when they're sick. Most load up on cold medicine and do their best not to whuffle and sneeze at a table so that the table isn't that aware.

    I agree it's awful to be waited on while someone is sick, and equally as awful that they cannot get a paid sick day.

    5 Replies
    1. re: rockandroller1

      You hit the nail on the head, rockandroller1. When I waited tables, I not only had no sick or personal days, but I was reamed out if I called in. I remember having a vicious argument with my manager when I called in sick for the second time in 3 days. He said that I needed to get myself there or find a new job. I found a new job. But in this economy? I probably would have gone in sick...even though I COMPLETELY agree with Beach Chick that it's GROSS. (That's actually what I said during the argument - "I'm sure the customers would not appreciate having someone sick with the flu serving them food". He actually responded something along the lines of "I really don't care what they think").

      1. re: RosemaryHoney

        That's SOP for those managing from the office SOBs.

        I ran the YOMO (You owe me one) system for people that were sick in one restaurant. There's always one or two servers that will take ANY shift regardless of what time in a restaurant so it's not like you can't find a replacement. It just wasn't ever an issue and people felt confident about using it.

        As a father of an immune system depressed child, I would have immediately blasted the manager for putting a sick server out on the floor...

        1. re: The Ranger

          I'm going through that right now, I just took a serving job at a major chain and the assistant manager trained me with a fever and a vicious cough. A day later I was sick with 102 103 temp. I had to call off after they worked me 17 hours without a break or food. I go in the next day only to be blasted with oh u want to be responsible and protect guests from ur illness?? We need a doctors note or u can't work. I cannot believe I was told that after she got me sick. I merely pointed out that a child with cancer or limited immune system could come in and die from my basic cold. Not cool...not responsible behavior from a manager. The while staff I'd sick or her shift and I would not go in there to eat if my life depended on it. They are just passing the same germs back and forth. It is awful

      2. re: rockandroller1

        thats it in a nutshell - believe me he/she would rather be at home resting .People don't work sick because they want to. The food industry needs to make some major changes for the benefit of the workers that will result in benefits for all. The industry in underpaid and underbenefited due to the slim profit margins. We all lose. Hopefully you told the manager.....maybe they will get a clue about the pickle they place they're staff in.
        I don't know the answer is, as an owner myself all I can do is be understanding and unpenalizing of being sick - margins do not allow for paid days off.
        We are going to have to pay more for food to take care of our workers, who will in turn then take care of our food and food safety. But no one wants to/can .....and with $5.00 all you can eat pizza buffets its pretty hard to change the thought pattern. Most owners would like to take care of their employees as it is a reciprocal situation. Can't charge more to pay for the extras , so can't.

        1. re: coastie

          It depends on the restaurant. Passing on rising food costs to the customer isn't always the deal breaker for returning customers....however sick servers and lousy service is.
          In other words I'd rather pay higher prices for the food I'm used to in the restaurant I love but will quit coming when/if I realize the owner of the establishment could care less if I get sick from their sick server or could care less if the service sucks.
          Not all restaurants are managed the same and not all owners agree on what makes a 'great' restaurant.

      3. It's not just the front of the house, either. DH is a chef and is home sick today with a cold. So he isn't getting paid, but he isn't dribbling in anyone's scrambled eggs. Luckily, we can afford an unpaid sick day here and there, but not everyone in the front or back of the house can.

        1. I'm pretty sure our local Dept of Health has a position about sick servers...maybe a customer could approach it from that angle?

          I really feel for servers. What a crappy system. One of my favorite parts about being self-employed is my ability to stay home when I'm sick!

          1. Well, I am gonna think that the server did NOT want to be there, and A) could not call out becuase of management yelling and B ) not being able to afford the loss of a day's wages.

            So I hope you did the right thing and did not blame her, but spoke to management about THEIR policy of having visually ill staff working in food handling; server, chef or bus staff. I bet management calls out for a pimple!

            1. I have, from both positions. As a diner, I've had food served by sniffling servers. I know the deal in the restaurant business so I just roll my eyes and I'm grateful I'm not being served by Typhoid Mary.
              When I worked in retail, even with so-called "sick days," I became very sick at work one day and was told I couldn't leave. By the time I got home, my fever was over 100. When I called in sick the next day, I was told by my manager, "you can't have the day off, I need you here." Since I had what appeared to be the Chicken pox, I made the decision to stay home. After 6 years I was tossed out!

              1. If that happened to me, I'd alert the mgt. and leave.

                1 Reply
                1. re: treb

                  Many times, I've found, the manager doesn't care.

                2. My only suggestion (pleadingly) is that if you say something to the manager, please do it in such a way that the server is not reamed out. If you angrily complain to the manager, they are likely to just blast the server and then send them home without any $. If I could ask you to do so, please, when you talk to the manager, you should say that (like someone else pointed out) you really would be willing to pay a couple dollars more here and there for your meal if they would give servers at least a couple of paid sick days off per year so they wouldn't be forced to come in when they are obviously really not feeling good.

                  1. late last night, I got sick..I never get sick..

                    I have waited tables back in the day and I do understand from both sides but the visual of the nasal drip and she catching it on her arm was too much info and visual for me to stand...she was a sweetheart and I felt for her but it appeared she could not leave (per mgmt)..so me, the paying customer paid for it..I got sick!

                    4 Replies
                    1. re: Beach Chick

                      I thought you refused service? Regardless of whether you did I think you should write a letter to the establishment and cc it to your local health department. This won't gain anything for yourself immediately but will work towards slowly changing the system. It is unlikely the restaurant will accept any resposibility as it is possibly a coincindence - but internally they will examine the situation.
                      ps. I wish you a speedy recovery.

                      1. re: coastie

                        I did but didn't realize she was that sick until app's were ordered and delivered..

                        1. re: coastie

                          If you think a call to the Health Department over a restaurant having a sick worker is going to result in change on any level, you are suffering from.... severe misapprehension.

                          If you are a server and are sick you call other servers and ask them to sub for you. THAT is how it is done. That or the owner has tons of servers all getting complete crap for shifts because the work is spread out to cover sick or otherwise unable/unwilling to work. That means less money per server. Do they want that? NO. So, they act in their own best interest and like responsible adults. They do not call in sick without calling others first. They do everything possible not to leave their boss in the lurch.

                          That goes for the back of the house too. You know, the ones sneezing into your food. The only acceptable reason for calling in sick if you are a chef is if you fell onto your knives while sharpening them and they perforated your stomach wall.

                          Life in restaurant land. Harsh. I guess that is where they came up with "Buck the heck up".

                          1. re: Sal Vanilla

                            The back of house is generally even less flexible to having workers absent unexpectedly. A restaurant that has a larger staff is more able to absorb these losses by calling in people who are off, but a restaurant with two kitchen staff that is open 5 days a week loses half the work force if somebody calls in sick.

                            That means two things. there won't be enough time to prep enough food for the day's service and service time will be completely compromised. Imagine your server telling you that half the menu is unavailable and that you will have to wait 20 additional minutes for your entree because one person called in sick.

                      2. I can’t recall a specific example of being served by a sick server, but the most recent unpleasant server had terrible B.O. I couldn’t wait until he left the table. He was a young guy with long hair that hung in his face, and I suspect one of those who don’t bathe or use deodorant because they want to be “natural”. I don’t know. At any rate, it did make me think about _his_ cleanliness and _my_ food.

                        1 Reply
                        1. re: cuccubear

                          "with long hair that hung in his face," That in itself, woudl make me stop. If you can't keep your hair out of * your* face, how are you going to keep it from being in *my* food?
                          I really would have to look at the whole place again and wonder, if they are letting this out front, where I can see it; what are they letting slide in back where it can't be seen?

                        2. I asked for leftover dumplings to go. I heard my waitress blowing her nose a few feet behind me (and saw her too, out of the corner of my eye) then immediately after (as in, before washing her hands), she came and picked up my plate and went back and slide them into a container. She didn't touch the dumplings, no, but the whole affair was so icky that I left the dumplings behind.

                          1 Reply
                          1. re: soniabegonia

                            I would have been taking fresh dumplings home......definitly would have complained to management - and unlike the sick server whom we think was stuck working, this is directly the servers fault. Yucky yucky

                          2. >>""Isn't there a law against serving food to the public when sick?""

                            No LAW per se, but there is foodservice RULES that an establishment maybe in violation of.

                            Most places I have worked for, would send the ill person home, rather than having the ill employee grossing out the customers.

                            I actually left the food industry because I got laid up for 3 weeks following an emergency surgery- as I had no benefits to fall back on. Also the annual nickel an hour pay increase would never take me out of the poverty level in my lifetime.

                            2 Replies
                            1. re: RShea78

                              I'd say more importantly than not grossing out the customers is not infecting them...or the rest of the staff for that matter

                              1. re: hungryungry

                                Well, grossing out a customer can be done from some distance. (Simple observation) Although we cannot overlook infecting each other, we often think of that as being to darn close!

                            2. jfood asks for a different section, or he leaves. Ain't taking the chance. jfood cannot miss work either.

                              1. This might make some of you feel better:

                                A little while back I was exposed to a Noro-virus outbreak (Norwalk virus = very easily transmitted food borne illness) I called my boss at the restaurant expecting him to guilt me little, if not force me to work. He told me to stay the hell away from his restaurant until the outbreak was over.
                                I never did get sick, but it relieved me to know that some people do take it seriously (I also didn't get any sick days, but I only work part time there so that wasn't a big deal for me... for full timers it would have been though)

                                2 Replies
                                1. re: hungryungry

                                  A cold/flu outbreak is hard to trace back to a specific restaurant and will not make the news. Depending on the city/county and norovirus outbreak will be investigated and is easily traced to a specific restaurant, likely making the news... Definitely does make me feel better to know that restaurant owners/managers don't want to spread norovirus, but doesn't make me feel better about a server with the sniffles.

                                  For better or for worse I live in a college town so most servers are students, but the school has a wonderful financial aid program, so students working in restaurants can afford to call in sick more so than in other cities (managers accommodate class and exam schedules, sick days don't faze them much). I honestly don't think I've ever seen a sick server here.

                                  1. re: mpjmph

                                    True about not being able to trace back a viral outbreak. The OP is in San Diego and in the last two weeks it has been rarer for me to meet someone out here who does not have or is just getting over having the cough/crud/sniffles.

                                2. It is gross. Sorry you got sick. I have a somach virus right now and I was reading on the internet that even after symptoms are gone, for about two weeks you can still infect people. It's super contagious.

                                  1. There is an answer to this: ask your state legislature to pass a law giving workers paid sick days. Massachusetts is working on it right now. Here's a link to the actual bill filed, http://www.mass.gov/legis/bills/senat... An advocacy group's take on it is here. http://www.momsrising.org/MA_paidsick.... I totally support this legislation. I don't want sick people serving me, and I also don't want them to lose their jobs if they call in sick. Waiters should get paid sick days just like I do (and in my desk job, I get a generous number -- 12/year.) The legilation doesn't propose that much. So call your state representative or senator and ask them to file this bill in your state! Everyone wins.

                                    11 Replies
                                    1. re: somervilleoldtimer

                                      somervilleoldtimer-- As much as I like such legislation, it simply adds more to the costs of doing business. It doesn't take much with today's stressed out economy, that "locking the doors" is much easier.

                                      >>""Everyone wins.""

                                      Unfortunately, that isn't always the case.

                                      1. re: RShea78

                                        Most of the studies I've read about providing sick days suggest that the opposite is true. The cost of not providing sick days is that people come in when they are sick and infect others, reducing productivity across the board. I know when I'm on cold medicine, I'm lethargic and barely even with it. That's certainly going to affect performance even in a restaurant environment.

                                      2. re: somervilleoldtimer

                                        Who do you think will be paying for the sick days?
                                        The owner of the business will simply pass on the costs.

                                        1. re: latindancer

                                          Of course, like he's passing on the cost of everything else. But the cost of a few sick days for a few waiters, spread out over everyone who eats there during a year, is not prohibitive for anyone. I would think the owners would want to do this because if the word gets around that the waitstaff is serving people while sick, business will drop. How much does a waiter actually get paid by a restaurant? A few dollars an hour? Even if a waiter gets $6.50/hour, x 8 hours, means he gets paid $50.00/day. If the owner gave the waiter 4 sick days/year, that's $200.00/year, divided by all the people who eat there all year. We're talking pennies so the person bringing you your food is healthy.

                                          And don't you get sick days in your job? Who pays for them? Aren't you glad you have them?

                                          1. re: somervilleoldtimer

                                            I pay for them.
                                            I'm glad I'm self employed.

                                            1. re: somervilleoldtimer

                                              Nobody actually knows what the owner of restaurant does/doesn't do for their employees....it differs from business to business.
                                              I never just naturally assume the person waiting on tables, when they're sick, is there because they're not getting paid sick days.
                                              I can't remember the last time someone actually was concerned about my welfare, when they're sick, whether it be at a restaurant, the bank, the drugstore or the market.

                                              1. re: latindancer

                                                True, no one knows about a specific restaurant's policy except employees, but there are a lof of people on this board who have worked in the business, and most would note that it is not standard or common for restaurants to offer paid sick leave (or even unpaid sick leave). I've never known of a place that does so, with the exception of some hotel restaurants.

                                                Likewise, we can't know that all teachers or nurses or engineers are allowed sick days, but it seems safe to say that most are, as it's safe to say that most servers are not.

                                              2. re: somervilleoldtimer

                                                Unfortunately, server minimum wage, which almost all of us he paid is far less than 6.50- it's 2.83/hr. also you are all talking about the servers, but many cooks, especially in chain restaurants don't get sick time either. It's a bummer, but every time you go out to eat in flu season, expect someone sick to be touching your food. But please don't take it out on your waitress (unless they are rude of course) I don't want to be there anymore than you want me to be there- however if you get good service you should tip accordingly.

                                            2. re: somervilleoldtimer

                                              Well I certainly think this is an idyllic proposal however there are those people who will still come to work sick and on the side be accruing sick days in order to take a vacation.
                                              I know several people who are doing it as we speak....and they're all in the food industry business. They all have hundreds of hours each.

                                              1. re: latindancer

                                                many companies (mine included) have a policy for sick days that they *don't* acrue. There is no particular number allowed; it is by management/employee discretion.

                                              2. I would treat a 'sick server' the same way I do a "server who is having a bad day". I avoid them both like the plague. A person's dining experience shouldn't be ruined because of an encounter with either one of them. If I'm ever seated at a table with a rude server for instance, I usually snag a "polite" server and say, "Excuse me, where would I have to sit to be served by you?". I then gesture towards the other server and say, "I don't want that person serving me, so direct me to a new table please." What almost always happens is they usually just assign me a new server -- and I'm sure they would have done the same had you requested one in your case. Certainly, they wouldn't have turned you away, especially in this economy.

                                                1. I regret being so late to this topic as no-one has been realistic yet! Sick days do not exist in the restaurant world. It's not about missing a days wages, it's about losing your job. You either persuade or bribe a hung-over/ auditioning/finals taking co-worker or you show up. I went to work one time with a broken wrist! (Granted, I didn't believe it was broken, and my owner grabbed me off the floor and took me to the ER.) I could go on with the serious injury stories - suffice to say that the general rule is - you have the sniffles - you are working. You have the flu and unsympathetic co-workers - you are working. Sorry customers - we will be super sanitary, we don't want to make you sick!

                                                  Paid sick days.... a beautiful myth

                                                  2 Replies
                                                  1. re: mbehindbars

                                                    Paid or not paid is irrelevant.
                                                    If I, as a customer, have to experience a person who's waiting on me, sniffling or sneezing around the food I'm eating, I'm not really too concerned about his/her income at this point.

                                                    1. re: latindancer

                                                      As a diner... I do not want a sick server. Unfortunately, I've worked in restaurants for years, and NO, i did not get sick days. If I didnt' show up, I risked losing my job. The days i was sick, my hands were raw from all the washing they got, and I spent so much time in the bathrooom sneezing (so as not to infect customers). I went out of my way to make sure no customers got sick, no matter how miserable I was. If I had called out sick? well then there would have been 3 servers waiting to take my place...

                                                  2. I think this is a relevant issue. Last winter I gave my order to a young man at panera who was obviously in the throes of a cold. He was sneezing into his elbow. I didn't pick this up at first, and had already given my order. I backed away from him But I got sick the next day. We are facing a possible swine flu epidemic this winter. Local authorities should be talking to resaurant owners and managers about this. Do you think this will happen?

                                                    8 Replies
                                                    1. re: sueatmo

                                                      I guess as a frequenter of casual dining places, I have to ask myself, what would I do in the middle of a flu epidemic? I have just read that swine vaccine will not be available until the end of the year. I have never even thought of anything like this. But it might be wise to stay home more if we get caught in the middle of an outbreak.

                                                      On another health/restaurant issue, we had in our area occurrences of hepatitis A which were traced to a restaurant. About that time I took advantage of low cost Hep A vaccinations. But that can be a real problem if food workers aren't practicing good personal hygiene. I have refused to revisit a place where a food worker (male) visited a bathroom, flushed and then immediately came out. No hand washing for him! I never went back.

                                                      1. re: sueatmo

                                                        You don't get sick from being exposed to something the next day. There is an incubation period.

                                                        1. re: sueatmo

                                                          Our household just went through swine flu - it swept through my son's preschool. Frankly, I was shocked by how lax both our doctors and the CDC recommendations were. I imagine that it will get more stringent if it returns in a more virulent form in the Fall.

                                                          If swine flu returns, you will more likely get it from co-worker or fellow student than from a restaurant. We should be pressing our own bosses and teachers to enforce isolation of sick people, rather than worrying about the more distant threat posed by restaurant servers.

                                                          1. re: Cachetes

                                                            > We should be pressing our own bosses and teachers to enforce
                                                            > isolation of sick people [..]

                                                            All well-and-good in theory but as someone that works in the public sector, it's unenforceable. Unless you have an administrator (boss) willing to draw the line and hold people to it, it's just not going to happen. I cannot tell you how many parents dope their children up on Tylenol/Advil/Motrin and send them to school. Unless the kid blows in the car right before drop-off, they just don't see an issue with it.

                                                            1. re: The Ranger

                                                              I agree with you absolutely. Thus I think we should not hold servers to a standard that many/most don't hold to in their own lives.
                                                              Thanks for the perspective.

                                                          2. re: sueatmo

                                                            I believe it is an irrelevant response. And this is why:
                                                            NO ONE ever gets that sick that fast. It takes days for the tiny few organisms to reproduce and take over your body to cause symptoms. As for swine flu, y'all allow the news to get to your head.

                                                            Please do RESEARCH as you would for school reports. And please use non ".com" sources

                                                            1. re: yummytif

                                                              Nearly three hundred people have died this season from influenza-related causes in California alone. The flu is nothing to sneeze at.

                                                          3. yeah, it's hard to stay healthy when you're waiting on *the public.* touching their flatware and glassware, their money. . . i always got some month-long superbug once a year, and i was an incessant handwasher. nothing to do but jack yourself up on dayquil and show up to work anyway-- there is no excuse for coughing/sneezing at work, or an obvious, dripping nose, imo-- tuck a lozenge under your tongue, spend more $ on cold medication, work your shift faking good health, die afterward. . .

                                                            health department rules aren't about the common cold. if any employee vomits, they must be sent home in compliance with local codes, obviously. . . a little sniffle, though? get real. that server has no economic choice but to work--& it's not as if s/he could see a doctor, anyway, even if given several days off. . . classist obliviousness though, i think it's pretty contagious.

                                                            1 Reply
                                                            1. re: soupkitten

                                                              And *I* have no economic choice but to work- if *I* don't work, *I* don't get paid. Not every restaurant patron is well-to-do. On the rare occasions that I eat out, I don't need a souvenir microbe to remind me of my visit, and I need to be able to go to work the next day.

                                                              But if the server doesn't work, she doesn't get paid, but if I get sick I can't work...but then.. but... That's what makes it a dilemma, right?

                                                            2. Coming in late...

                                                              The issue often isn't about missing a days wage - it is usually about keeping a job. Every food service job I've ever had required you to come in if you couldn't find someone to cover your shift. Otherwise you were fired. Longtime employee, great worker, doesn't matter.

                                                              It is very rare to find a food service manager who doesn't operate in this way.

                                                              3 Replies
                                                              1. re: meatn3

                                                                Yep, me too. In fact, I lost my first job as a server b/c I had hurt my ankle and was on crutches. The owners just screamed at me over the phone that the servers have to do a better job covering each others' shifts, and that if I didn't come in that day, I shouldn't bother to in the future. Easy choice - I quit, but that was only b/c I was young and still living with my folks. If I were paying my own rent, I'd have had no choice but to hobble in.

                                                                1. re: Cachetes

                                                                  I lost one position due to coming down with double pneumonia. I tore the cartilage which attaches the sternum to the ribs at another job - the boss just kept insisting I take massive amounts of tums. I couldn't afford to not work through that one. Carrying any thing more than two platters had me almost passing out from the pain.

                                                                  Idiot managers made me decide to leave restaurant work. I loved every other aspect of the work. Not sure why there is such a disproportionate number of bad managers in this industry...

                                                                  1. re: meatn3

                                                                    Money. The rest of the bad managers are in retail.

                                                              2. MIght be a good time to read Anthony Bourdain's book on Typhoid Mary!

                                                                Sample chapter readable here:

                                                                Sorry you had that experience.

                                                                1. Beach Chick - Next time ask for another server - no matter where you are in the dinner process.

                                                                  1 Reply
                                                                  1. re: Sal Vanilla

                                                                    I did..I refused service from that waiter..

                                                                  2. I think I just quit for this exact reason.

                                                                    I just told my fine dining serving job in the bay area that if they are seriously going to pressure me to come into work sick and if I don't, actually act like its the end of the world and that they're going to fire me - all because I'm not willing to serve people while I have a horrid headcold - that I quit.

                                                                    So I feel you on this post. I found this post because I'm currently livid about it and wanted to find public opinion.

                                                                    I certainly don't want a sick person serving me and while I understand the nightly dining symphony must go on, it should go on with a healthy stand in! I love my job - great tips, beautiful ambiance, but this is a line I refuse to cross.

                                                                    To me it is one thing to be waited on at a five and dime mom and pop breakfast joint by a sick server, it's QUITE another when you are paying serious money for an award winning culinary journey from a top 25 rated restaurant and your server has to keep running to the back to blow her nose. Not cool and with other jobs to pay the bills on my plate, not something I will tolerate. For my own health, the health of others, and sound business practice, I choose to stand my ground for better or worse.

                                                                    Here's my little insight from a fine dining server's perspective.
                                                                    Happy dining!

                                                                    1. I know this is an old thread, but still timely.

                                                                      It would help if servers were compensated for sick-time.

                                                                      Penny-smart, pound foolish.

                                                                      4 Replies
                                                                      1. re: pedalfaster

                                                                        Since someone bumped this old thread and the question of Mandatory Paid Sick Leave has been asked:

                                                                        In 2012, Connecticut (where I live) became the first state in the US to require paid sick leave for service employees (minimum of 50 employees in a company during any one quarter in the previous calendar year).


                                                                        Employees accrue one hour paid for every 40 hours worked up to 40 hours paid sick leave per year and can carry forward up to 40 hours of unused sick leave.

                                                                        This time can also be used to care for sick family members.

                                                                        While many complain that most independent restaurants don't have 50 employees, many restaurants that staff less than 20 at a time have more than 50 on the books, working various shifts and hours.

                                                                        There are proposals to reduce the 50 employee threshold in committee.

                                                                        1. re: bagelman01

                                                                          That's wonderful. I have many health issues and a weakened immune system and no longer eat out because of the risk, both from foodborne illness and mishandling.

                                                                          When I was a kid, my mother got Hepatitis A after eating a salad at a restaurant near our home. She's a surgeon and was totally laid up for over 2 months (luckily she does get sick pay, but had to cancel some 100+ operations).

                                                                          I remember distinctly that she was put in "quarantine" in our small home and none of us kids were allowed to even enter the room she was in for those 2 months. This went through Thanksgiving. Mom was yellow like a highlighter and vomited constantly.

                                                                          After she recovered, she filed a report with the health department. One of the prep cooks at that restaurant had Hep A and knew it, but was still working and handling all the fresh produce prep because he "needed the money."

                                                                          I know this is different than someone coming to work with a common cold, but it's disgusting and possibly deadly. Who knows how many people that man infected.

                                                                        2. re: pedalfaster

                                                                          I find it a little sad that we feel we must justify paid time for sick employees based on the value of customers not getting sick. What about it being just a decent thing to do? Like a safe working environment, or minimum wage.

                                                                          1. re: DGresh

                                                                            I think that much of the point about sick days is that it neither benefits entirely the company, employees, or customers (should there be any) - but really everyone. If I'm coming to work sick, it's likely that it'll take me longer to get better and I won't be as productive. Therefore the company will be paying me the same rate for less efficiency. Similarly, if I outface/work with customers - taking a sick day prevents them from getting sick/blaming the interaction on the company. And lastly, as a healthier person overall, my entire life (work/family/etc) is improved.

                                                                            Where I think the customer element in service workers becomes more relevant is that customers are essentially directly responsible for a higher percentage of a servers' wage (aka tips) than the company.

                                                                        3. One other point is that colds take a while to run their course. You may still be exhibiting some residual symptoms after the worst of the sickness has passed.

                                                                          I don't know a single person in any industry who has the luxury of not working the entire time one has a relatively minor illness.

                                                                          1 Reply
                                                                          1. re: LeoLioness

                                                                            "I don't know a single person in any industry who has the luxury of not working the entire time one has a relatively minor illness."

                                                                            Government employees often have this luxury. Mom is a retired school teacher, then administrator. In 1984 the contract was changed so that the maximum amount of unsused sick days that would be paid off in cash at retirement was cut to 180 (a year's worth of working days. Previously it was 250. Mom took 70 days off saying her feet were sore (after standing on them teaching for 40 years), then retired and got her 180 paid in cash.

                                                                            SIL is a public school teacher and takes her 15 days every year. If she gets a sniffle, she'll bake it out at the beach on the public dime.