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Calling in sick?

post #1 of 35
Thread Starter 
I'm about to blow a gasket. Today we had five employees call or leave because they were sick. I've been working nights cooking all our take-home food items and the day deli crew does a lot of my prep work, cutting meet mostly. Because all these employees are calling in sick I'm spending another 2 hours plus in the kitchen every night. Plus, I end up working the deli counter for the first three hours of my shift which puts me behind even more. My new night help was pirated by the boss to work days. He didn't miss a single day when on the night shift, in the past two weeks he has missed four days. When he misses work my work load doubles as I have to make 100 pounds of chicken salad and all the other salads we sell.

Now, I'm 55 years old and haven't missed more than 2 weeks of work in the past nine years I've been here because I was sick. These kids have missed more in the past six months, A LOT MORE. I'm not bragging but my out-of-shape, bald-headed, fat butt can run circles around these 20-something slackers.

I can't believe that employees get sick this much. Are today's younger employees a sickly lot or just a bunch of lazy wimps?

I'm not the boss of the day crew, actually don't even have a night crew anymore - just me, but wish my boss would do something about it. And, yes she knows how I feel!

:beer: OK, I feel better, thanks letting me vent. But I promise you if these guys were on my shift they would be gone because they know I don't put up with it.
Bill
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Bill
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post #2 of 35
There are a lot of folks about to call in sick. My manager informed me that May 1st is a planned day of solidarity to protest the immigration legislation that is being worked on by Congress. He expects more than half of the staff to call in sick based either upon their political leanings or because it gives them an excuse to not show up.

Illness is one thing, abuse is quite another. If I fired people just because I didn't feel good on any one day or another they would never understand, but call in sick for any reason and that's O.K. I, too, am 55 and I just cannot fathom that work ethic.
post #3 of 35
im a young kid myself... 20 years old this year.. and kids are more sick these days then maybe when you were in ur 20's... its the lives we lead that make us sick... BUT u can usually tell when someone is getting sick or when they are faking... so its really a process of elimination to see who are the fakers and who are the real sick people.... but the basic answer to you question is yes kids are more sick these days... i remember when i was in high school i was sick every other month with broncitis or something like that... is the times we live... the people we hand out with and what time of an enviroment we live in at home...
post #4 of 35
well, if its your lifestyle choice or people you hang out with, THEN CHANGE IT!!!!!!!!! Its your choice. not the lifestyle or people you are around. Its yours. I get really annoyed with people who don't take there work seriously.
My life, my choice.....
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My life, my choice.....
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post #5 of 35
Make it a policy that if you are sick for 2 or more days, in a row, you must have a doctor's excuse and a release to come back to work. No ifs, ands, or buts. And document every single absence. You can get rid of employees with bad attendence records, even if they are claiming that they are sick. If they are not under a doctor's care and don't have written excuses for not being at work, that absence is unexcused and too many of them can put your job in jeapordy. I have gotten rid of a number of employees over the years due to poor attendence records, and have not once had to pay UE for them. You need to set the standard and make an example out of someone, or this thing will continue. Unless you stop this now, you will never have a realible crew.

And I don't buy that kids are sicker nowadays. It wasn't that long ago that I was in my 20's. The environment hasn't changed that much, and if it has then why is it only affecting the younger crowd. It's more about personal responsibility. If I got sick, because of my lifestyle (work hard, play even harder) then I suffered through it at work, knowing I did it to myself. Many of the kids I come across nowadays feel it is their right to call off sick if they partied too hard the previous night. Almost weekly I recieve calls from my staff trying to call off because they are "sick". Most often it is the same people who, last night, as they were leaving, were talking about heading to the bars. Sorry, but that upset stomach and headache you have today is not the flu, it's called a hangover, now get to work! I would have to have been on my "deathbed" to call in sick and let my chef and buddies down.
http://www.onceachef.com/ is my personal blog where I share many recipes, my passion for cooking, and all things food.
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http://www.onceachef.com/ is my personal blog where I share many recipes, my passion for cooking, and all things food.
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post #6 of 35

Communication

hi Pete,

i fully agree with you, in my time we had apprentices and apprentices, some were often absent and other only when they were sick.

Maybe it is also today still important, as it was done yesterday, to discuss the matter with them and coach them. Communication can solve alot of these absentism problems.

regards
post #7 of 35
Here in France it's the LAW that you MUST have a doctor's certficate for even one day off sick.
And today I went to work with a mighty hangover that, when I was self-employed and working from home, would have had me staggering out of bed at lunchtime...
I dunno, kids today...
--
Chris Ward
"Eat it all up! There's children starving in Africa who'd be glad to have that!" - My mother.
"Do you want some of this? The dog doesn't want to eat it so you can have it." My SO's mother.
Cooking and living in Provence, France
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--
Chris Ward
"Eat it all up! There's children starving in Africa who'd be glad to have that!" - My mother.
"Do you want some of this? The dog doesn't want to eat it so you can have it." My SO's mother.
Cooking and living in Provence, France
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post #8 of 35
You know, I know that abuses are out there, and this may well be the case in your circumstance, but I just want you to consider one thing...

If those 5 employees really are sick, be careful... They work in a commercial kitchen... they are potentially exposed to bacteria and other nasties while working there... It is possible that something in the kitchen infected them.

I am betting that what I am suggesting is a long shot, but it should be taken seriously.

Not really trying to play devil's advocate here, but I think that perspective is also important to consider. (especially if these employees typically have a good attendance record.)

-Jason
post #9 of 35
These days, I worry about the health of my whole department.
In the last couple of years, we have had a pretty bad flu season.
I am all for sticking it out if you have someone with a mild no contagious
illness, but, when it comes to contagious virul illnesses, I would rather
sacrifice one for the good of many. I personally don't have time to
miss work because of the irresponsibility of someone who wants to be
a martyr and work through a bad case of flu, infecting sometimes half
of my staff and causing overtime and excessive hours with the other
half. Sometimes its better to lose one for a few days, than, 20 or 30
for a few days. Remember, sick time will show up on your P&L at the
end of the month more times than not. Remember, wash your hands,
wash your hands, wash your hands.
post #10 of 35
So, why don't you hire more age 50+ workers that have a better work ethic than young sick kids? It seems this website is always full of these people that want to change careers.
post #11 of 35
I do agree with you to a point, even stephen. If you are really sick then you should stay home, and if you are that sick then you are going to miss more than 1 day, and then it requires a doctor's excuse and a note releasing you back to work. This way both mine and my employee's a** is covered. It is these constant "24 hour bugs" that I do away with in my restaurants. Allowing that to continue just makes the managers look dumb in the eyes of the employees and it lowers the morale of those good, loyal workers who only call off when truly sick.
http://www.onceachef.com/ is my personal blog where I share many recipes, my passion for cooking, and all things food.
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http://www.onceachef.com/ is my personal blog where I share many recipes, my passion for cooking, and all things food.
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post #12 of 35
I completely agree with the above statement and was going to post this earlier but was unable to. The reality is one legitimately sick employee staying home is much less costly than the die-hard (like I used to be) come in when you have the flu etc employee who as a result gets 5-6 other employees sick. Looking back I truly regret the times I came in to work sick and I was handling food it was just irresponsible.

As for people bringing in doctors notes I don't think this should be the norm as it instills a sense of mis-trust. Where I work people are actually encouraged to take their sick days and in one case I was sent home by my manager so that I would not get other people sick. In my current environment the management has worked very hard at hiring the right people who are serious and dedicated in their work and they know when someone takes a sick day they are sick (no proof needed).

It is important to note that it was not by any means an easy process for my current employers to get the dedicated team we have now. Many many interviews were held and often times it took months to find the right people. This is not always an feasible thing to do in the kitchen environment as sometime your so strapped for cooks. But, the resulting team can be a big pay off. In short take the time to hire dedicated people.
Thanks,

Nicko 
ChefTalk.com Founder
All About Braising: The Art of Uncomplicated Cooking
All About Braising: The Art of Uncomplicated Cooking
Bacon (I made)
(26 photos)
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Thanks,

Nicko 
ChefTalk.com Founder
All About Braising: The Art of Uncomplicated Cooking
All About Braising: The Art of Uncomplicated Cooking
Bacon (I made)
(26 photos)
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post #13 of 35
Littlecook,
Your are definately on to something. This generation is full of sickness. My own personal feeling is the lack of exposure to the enviornment. I have nieces and nephews who have passed puberty and are still taking all kinds of antibiotics and medicines.
When we were kids we ran around outside and built up immunities. I don't blame the youngsters, it's not their fault. My 15 yr old suffers from hayfever when the season is here. I think it is because he did not run around in the season when he was little. I'm pretty sure, that every kid I know under 14 yrs old is on some type of medication. It's crazy!!!!! Most of them are on their 4 and 5th kind since they have built up immunities to the drugs.
As far as employees, I have contracted with a doctor within walking distance. I have them visit to make sure the aren't contagious. Plus they know, when they need to get away, just ask. I also told them that they would break our solidarity if the attended the march. Unexcused absence.

Never! Live To Work!:::::::Work To Live!::Life Is Too Short!!
Paninicakes.com

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Never! Live To Work!:::::::Work To Live!::Life Is Too Short!!
Paninicakes.com

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post #14 of 35
panini that is an excellent policy to have with a doctor so close by as well as an open policy for people to talk with you when they just need a break.

I agree with you about people be more open to sickness now. The prolific use of anti-baterial soap and lotions etc, flu shots etc weakens your bodies ability to fight things when they come your way.
Thanks,

Nicko 
ChefTalk.com Founder
All About Braising: The Art of Uncomplicated Cooking
All About Braising: The Art of Uncomplicated Cooking
Bacon (I made)
(26 photos)
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Thanks,

Nicko 
ChefTalk.com Founder
All About Braising: The Art of Uncomplicated Cooking
All About Braising: The Art of Uncomplicated Cooking
Bacon (I made)
(26 photos)
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post #15 of 35
Im sorry, but I just don't believe that people are sicker than they were just a few years ago. I think it has more to do with the fact that we can't handle sickness as well. We are programmed to pop a pill the minute we feel the slightest discomfort, and if that doesn't releave the symptoms right away then we must really be "sick". I have always said that we would, one day, create a race of humans that couldn't fight off the simplest cold due to our reliance on medicines, but I don't think that time has come.

As for the notes, those are as much for protection as they are for making sure that people are really sick. If you have to miss 2+days of work due to an illness, then you must really be pretty sick, and as a boss I want to know that you are no longer contagious and are capable of coming back to work. This way I know you aren't spreading germs to other employees or will injure yourself because you can't keep your mind on work due to an illness.
http://www.onceachef.com/ is my personal blog where I share many recipes, my passion for cooking, and all things food.
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http://www.onceachef.com/ is my personal blog where I share many recipes, my passion for cooking, and all things food.
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post #16 of 35
Point well taken Pete. Knowing if someone is still contagious or not is important. My concern as I stated was that it is done properly like Panini seems to be doing and there is no question of trust. If a chef has concerns about whether an employee is being honest then there are deeper issues that need to be dealt with. Most likely if dishonesty is happening in regards to being sick then it is probably happening on other levels as well. Hope that makes sense.
Thanks,

Nicko 
ChefTalk.com Founder
All About Braising: The Art of Uncomplicated Cooking
All About Braising: The Art of Uncomplicated Cooking
Bacon (I made)
(26 photos)
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Thanks,

Nicko 
ChefTalk.com Founder
All About Braising: The Art of Uncomplicated Cooking
All About Braising: The Art of Uncomplicated Cooking
Bacon (I made)
(26 photos)
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post #17 of 35
Thread Starter 

Calling in Sick? Update - Welcome to the zoo!!!

I appreciate all the comments and suggestions but as I am not in charge and my boss refuses, for some unknown reason, to forcefully address this problem I have to make a decision. Do I continue to work here with a owner, who is a very nice person, that will not address here personnel problems or do I cut and run.

I've been here nine years come July and have learned a lot about cooking. Although I disagree with the way the boss and her head chef fail to adhere to basic standards of operations, it hasn't been that bad until we moved and added the café back in October. But lately, its been really hard to come to work. I guess I'll have to do some soul searching and make a decision.

As for the "calling in sick crew", remember the book "The Bronx Zoo"? They got nothing on us! The head chef had the dishwasher, who DID show up everyday, fired because he got mad and raised some heck about all the others missing work and him having to do three workers job. Don't blame him one bit. Our head chef told the boss it was her (the head chef) or the dishwasher. What a coward's way of firing someone. Of course the owner sided with the head chef and fired the dishwasher. Now the other two guys that were out sick are still out sick, but they haven't been fired. The boss got an appointment for one of them to see a specialist but he failed to show for the appointment. I bet she stills get a bill from the doctor. Neither one of them has called as well. But they aren't fired?

To make it more interesting another one of the call-in-sick-gang went to see his probation officer today and got put in jail for not paying his fines. The boss' husband drove 30 miles to get him out of jail but they would not let him out. It was supposed to be his last day on probation.

What a Zoo!
Bill
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Bill
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post #18 of 35
I agree with Pete, Chef K and Pannini. All excellent and relivant points.

Furthermore, If you think someone is not sick and calling out because they don't "feel" like working perhaps they should take a week or two off (without pay) to "get there head together". Sometimes employees net to get hit where it hurts and realise that they work for you and the operation, not the other way around. I do not a gree with coddling employees, furthermore, it is our obligation to create a good, happy, safe, clean and fun workplace where our people want to come to work (and perhaps learn a thing or two and be on a team).
"Laissez Le Bon Temps Roule"
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"Laissez Le Bon Temps Roule"
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post #19 of 35
remember though.. health codes say.. if your sick dont work.. i have seen people threaten that they will call the health dept. for making them work sick.. its a thin line..

and if you think about it.. short of the "your not contagious when you show symtoms" argument.. do you really want your customers eating food prepared by soem one with a stomach virus? or even a cold?

first thing i learnt in sanitation courses..

food is the number one cause/carrier of illness.. that should be our concern also..
post #20 of 35
Fairfieldchef,

You have owners who are to intimidated by the staff issues and problems to take them on; and are now letting them jeopardize the entire business operation. It's a difficult dilema for you to resolve; frankly I don't think you can.

The worker is not entitled to the job; they have an opportunity and have to work to keep it. The business has identified a job(task) that must be done, that's why they hire someone; they need for the job(task) to be completed. The task does not go away just because the employee isn't there. Your employer isn't recognizing that.

I tell all my staff, that I don't permit actions from anyone that may jeopardize the business as a whole, because I'm then jeopardizing everyone's job........ and that's not fair to the crew.

On the other hand, when I hand out the payroll checks, and an employee says "Thank You," I always correct them by saying "don't thank me, you earned it" in a friendly way.

Good luck to you.
post #21 of 35
The requirements for calling in sick is to notify us the night before if you're not feeling well. and get by to see the doc. I'm not alone in having a sorta contract with the local doc. I know a variety of businesses at my networking group that have done this same thing. For me it's great, I barter for birthday cakes and such. There are more and more doctors willing to do this sort of thing because they get there funds right away, 35.00 and she will usually give us something from her sample closet. With us she knows she's not likely to pick something up from one of our employees.
The most important thing is to communicate burn out before it hits.Just let me know if you need time away, it's so important and really shuts down that revolving door.

Never! Live To Work!:::::::Work To Live!::Life Is Too Short!!
Paninicakes.com

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Never! Live To Work!:::::::Work To Live!::Life Is Too Short!!
Paninicakes.com

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post #22 of 35
Another march on May 1?

:smoking:
post #23 of 35

Calling in Sick...

Hey guys, when I was a Mess Sergeant (the dining facility manager) in the Army Reserve, I inspected everyone reporting for duty for cleanliness and signs of illness. I asked them questions like: "How are you doing?" "Are you psyched for today?" If they felt sick I sent them to the medic to see if they were contagious. If they were, they were gone. In the Army you're serving thousands sometimes. So, if someone is contagious and others get sick then you're relieved of duty (fired in the Army). If someone called in from home they **** well better have a doctor's note. If not they can get a letter of reprimand or even an Article 15. (Non-judicial punishment. For example, reduction in rank, loss of pay, cleaning the latrine, etc.). I hardly had anyone ever call in sick. We had a bond together as a team. You never, ever wanted to let your team member down. So, you show up, suck it up and accomplish your mission, the meal. Maybe you can use some Army tactics in the civilian world eh?
Dale Angelo Iannello
Wanna be Pastry Chef
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Dale Angelo Iannello
Wanna be Pastry Chef
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post #24 of 35
Well....i'd say when they came back they would need a referal from the doctor..
post #25 of 35
What about their mothers? yesterday our 27 year old dishwasher had his mother call in to tell the chef he would not be in.
post #26 of 35
One perspective that I have not seen on this thread is the issue of insurance and access to a doctor if you are sick. In my past, I have worked for many food service establishments that did not offer health insurance of any kind to the employees, yet required a doctor's note if calling in sick-even for just one day. This then requires the employee to shell out $45-75 to go and spend all day in a "Doc-in-a-Box" only to meet with a nurse-practitioner and get the friggin' note. So not only are they out the wages they would earn on that day, but are now in the hole for the office visit. Additionally, there are plenty of illnesses (bad colds, severe cramps, ankle sprains, Monty's Revenge, getting punched out by your boyfriend, just to name a few) that would warrant a day off from work, yet little would be gained by visiting a doctor. It seems the doctor's note requirement is a bit punitive in nature unless someone has an illness that would cause extended absence (2-3 days out or more).

Even if you do supply insurance coverage to your staff, I'd like to know what doctor I can get in to see TODAY, unless it's a pediatrician. I have insurance now (bloody b--t---s that they are) and can't get an appointment for 4-5 days, unless I'm dying.

The arrangement with the doc next door is fair minded and forward thinking. There is not enough of that kind of employee care shown in this industry, I feel.
I know it's a hassle to deal with absenteeism, I've been there. But the chronic call-ins usually have other performance problems in my experience. Just document everything and let them go. Then hire more reliable staff.

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post #27 of 35

Yah know...

I remember when I was young and being couched with some sort of flu fairly often. Driving the porcelain bus, fever dreams, ... you just got over it. I couldn't say how many times per year but it was up there in number.

The flu thing started to subside when I hit high school. I think that you develop your immunities when you're young because you're exposed to so much and drag your now veteran immune system into your older years. Can anyone here say they get as sick as often now as when they were a kid?

I'm not sure how much the over use of antibiotics and meds plus antibacterial 'everything' has had a hand in reduced immune systems of people.

When I was young it was just part of nature that you'd get a virus and in most instances get over it. But it was a part of life, everybody knew it happened and you weren't penalized for being human.

I'm not really sure what having a Doctor's certificate is going to prove. Many illnesses and flu like symptoms are something that a Doctor couldn't really test for anyway (or really do anything about) to be certain of anything. (my mom said that most medicine is bordering on witchcraft anyway) You say you are puking or have a fever. Yes, the Doc can check your temp but unless you puke on his shoes, what's that going to prove? It's not really going to be able to tell him what the cause of it is. I find it ironic that people who are genuinely ill have to go out in public (instead of bed rest, exposing other people and potentially prolonging their illness by overexerting themselves) and wait for hours in an unpleasant waiting room just to have a Doctor tell them they have what they already knew.

A few illnesses as compared to most injuries can be documented. For instance, a sprained ankle as compared to a moderate concussion. (I suffered a concussion last year). The Doc would have to depend on what I told him, not an obvious bruised and swollen joint. You can't even do anything about it. Just rest. Can't put your skull in a cast.

I think the bottom line is trust. Do you trust the employee who is sick. How devoted are they to their work? I think that's the crucial bit of information that only a good F&B Manager can ascertain. We've had runs of illness in our kitchens. It comes from exposure to hundreds of people per day with unknown sanitary habits. Most communicable illnesses aren't even apparent when they're at their most communicable stage.

Don't get me wrong, this does not mean don't call.

OK. With that said, I'll quietly step off of my little podium now...

April
:p
post #28 of 35
I think you are all right but for different reasons. The 20 year old saying they were a sickly generation. Getting out and about as a child. Come home at dusk, or when you get hungry. Get dirty, get sweaty, get tired. The point about about the variety and nature of vaccines is more than valid. They can kill adults, as the military well knows. And we are pumping them in from, quite literally, day one. It is insane. The obsession with cleanliness is driven by to chemical companies to make a mother feel guilty if junior falls of a bike and grazes his knee, and she doesn't take him to a pediatrician for a full check, blood screens, MRI and urine and faece samples. We had permanent grazes for the entire summer, and nobody rushed around shreeking, waving the dettol bottle and calling the ambulance. So to speak. Our offspring stay in school until they are 25, and then shocked by the 'real world'. They want mummy and daddy for the rest of their lives, and ooze into 'statism' as a substitute. So I cannot think there is any one cause for sick days. I do belive the causes are as much advertising manipulation and political and personal factors. I do think the matter is much more complex than we would give it credit for.

The young ones today are not inherantly lazy, they are massaged into thinking everything is their 'right' never mention responsibilty. Mention cause, but never effect. We are all suffering from inverted education. A savage deception.
post #29 of 35
Gosh, what a rave, sorry about that people. I didn't mention the dietary habits now prevalent. Once it was mum preparing the food, now it is an assault of boxes of additives. I saw for the first time in my life an ad. on tv for boxed macoroni and cheese. M&C for goodness sake. I was mortified to think this country could sink so low. I read the label, it was a dismal exercise. I am beginning to think the only safe place to eat is in a fairly good restaurant. As for hygiene, for the hundreds of millions of meals put out by these people, I would suggest the incidence is a low %. The only case I have seen of food poisoning in our family, was in my son after he went to a Turkish resto. in Rome. With a man and his beautiful niece, 18 years old. The meal was ordered by The Man, in the native language, who wished Christie dead, and he jolly near did. Neither of Man or Niece were unwell, but Niece had horrible bruises on her face the next day. Poor wee girl.
post #30 of 35
By the way, I think AprilBs post was on the button.
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