Restaurant Workers Prepare & Serve Food While Ill

10:55 PM, Feb 17, 2011   |    comments
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WASHINGTON, DC (WUSA) -- Working without paid sick days and without health plans provided by their employers, most restaurant workers report to work, even when they are sick, according to surveys in several recent studies.

"Ninety percent of restaurant workers in Washington, DC, reported not having access to paid sick days, and the same at the national level as well, 90%. Out of that 90%, 56% in Washington, DC, reported actually going to work and cooking, preparing, or serving food while they were sick," said Nikki Lewis, a coordinator at Restaurant Opportunities Center of Washington, DC.

"I don't think any restaurant workers want to make customers ill, or their co-workers or managers, but the problem is that restaurant work is low wage jobs.

"Oftentimes there is a compound issue in that you can't afford to take time off because you need every penny you can make," she said. Lewis says restaurant workers are underpaid and can't afford to take time off.

Organizers for restaurant workers urge the adoption of laws that require restaurants to provide paid sick days, but the industry opposes blanket legislation that covers all eateries.

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