Whether it’s retail, kitchen-work or waitressing, you simply aren’t allowed to be sick when you’re in a customer-based job.
Most decent companies that you’ll work full time for will offer you sick pay. That means that when you’re ill and need to take a day or a few days off work, you’ll still get paid. It makes sense. To not pay someone due to their inability to come into work through being ill is essentially punishing a person for something that’s out of their control.
But, that’s exactly what happens in most minimum-wage customer-facing jobs.
Whether you work in retail and have come down with a sickness bug so can’t make it into work on Saturday, or you work at a bar and have caught the flu so can’t work Friday night, having to call in sick is often terrifying. You know the boss will be annoyed at you, you know you’ll be missing out on well-needed money and you know you’re making a shift more difficult for your work colleagues. So it generally feels easier to suck it up and go into work no matter how poorly you are.
“You know the boss will be annoyed at you, you know you’ll be missing out on well-needed money and you know you’re making a shift more difficult for your work colleagues.”
This is such a ridiculous notion as we’re human beings, and that means we get sick. It can’t be helped, it happens, especially when we’re being over-worked and are over-tired. Bosses have no right to then assume a co-worker is lying or hungover when they call in sick. They have no right to be frustrated at the person for falling ill. And they have no right to make someone feel guilty for being too sick to work. But yet, they still do all of the above.
Not only is it detrimental to our own health to force ourselves to go in when our body desperately needs rest, but it’s also a health hazard. To handle drinks that are then being given to customers while ill is an easy way to pass around germs that could make others ill. It’s the same in retail when working in close proximity with clothes, shoes, make up etc. and in kitchens, when you’re literally touching food that’s then being given to customers.
Most workers know this, and most workers would do anything to stay in bed and away from customers when ill, but the pressure put on them by managers to come in even if they’re on their deathbed is ridiculously unfair.
Managers in customer-facing jobs need to be more caring. They need to be more understanding. And ultimately, they need to treat their workers with much more respect. That’s the least hard-working, minimum-wage staff deserve.
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