Chipotle asks sick employees to call the nurse
At Chipotle Mexican Grill, workers get paid to take the day off if they’re sick, but they’re often asked to check in with a nurse to validate their condition.
Speaking last week at Barclays’ investor conference in New York, Chipotle CEO Brian Niccol said the fast-casual chain updated its sick policy as part of a broad elevation of its “food safety culture” over the last two years, following a number of high-profile food safety incidents. Nurses are now on call for sick employees.
Mr. Niccol said, “If you say, ‘Hey, I’ve been sick,’ you get to call into the nurse. The nurse validates that you don’t have a hangover — you’re really sick — and then we pay for the day off to get healthy again.”
He also said employees can no longer enter the back of the restaurant without passing a “wellness check.”
Kerry Bridges, VP of food safety at Chipotle, later told TODAY that the sick policy isn’t intended to penalize employees for playing hooky, but to make sure they’re healthy enough to work.
“When an employee reports certain symptoms to their manager, the clinical nurse team at Zero Hour Health will follow up with those employees to understand their illness,” said Ms. Bridges. “Not all ill employees talk to a nurse, but all Chipotle employees receive paid sick leave from their first day of employment to use when they are not feeling well.”
The updated sick-day policy followed an incident at a Virginia location in July 2017 in which a sick employee was blamed for a norovirus outbreak that caused as many as 135 patrons to become ill. That incident received wide media coverage because it followed an E. coli outbreak and a separate norovirus incident at a Boston location in 2015.
Mr. Niccol said “trust scores” have been steadily improving because Chipotle has adopted a number of other food safety and restaurant sanitization measures, avoided any major incidents since July 2018, and changed its messaging to promote “the good things that we do as opposed to what are the wrong things that others do.”
- Barclays 2019 Eat, Sleep, Play – It’s Not All Discretionary – Chipotle Mexican Grill
- Chipotle has nurses check if workers who call in sick are just hungover – Business Insider
- Does Chipotle really make employees see a nurse to determine if they’re hungover? – Today
- Chipotle Announces Industry-Leading Mental Health And Financial Wellness Benefits For All Employees – Chipotle Mexican Grill
DISCUSSION QUESTIONS: Does having on-call nurses sound like a good investment for most restaurants as well as food retailers? What advice would you have about calling-in-sick policies and discouraging workers from coming to work when they are ill?