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Chipotle employs nurses to double-check that workers are actually sick – and not just hungover


December 5, 2019
By Talent Canada Staff

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A Chipotle restaurant location in downtown Toronto. Photo: Google Streetview

Chipotle is employing a new – and controversial – tactic to check to see if its employees are actually truly sick.

If a staff member phones in sick, they get a call from a nurse to double-check, said CEO Brian Niccol.

“We have nurses on call, so that if you say, ‘Hey, I’ve been sick,’ you get the call into the nurse,” said Niccol this week at the Barclays conference, according to a post on the Insider. “The nurse validates that it’s not a hangover – you’re really sick. And then we pay for the day off to get healthy again.”

Chipotle has been in the headlines for the wrong reasons when it comes to food safety in the past. In 2017, there was a Norovirus outbreak that was traced to a sick employee. While the company offers paid sick days, some workers at the time told CNBC they were discouraged from using it and told to show up regardless.

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The policy started trending in discussions on LinkedIn this morning, with many commenters criticizing the restaurant chain.

“Chipotle has nurses who connect with employee callouts to discern if they are truly sick or simply hungover,” said one organizational development professional. “As an employee, I wonder how they see it? My own reaction, perhaps from working for suspicious leaders in the past, is this feels mistrustful.”