Olive Garden parent company offers paid sick leave to part time workers

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Darden Restaurants, the parent company behind the popular eateries Olive Garden and Longhorn Steakhouse, has expanded its paid sick leave policy to include hourly workers across its different restaurant brands.

The employer had already been planning to offer this sick time policy for over a year, but was not preparing to launch it at this time. However, given the current environment around the coronavirus pandemic, Darden says it decided to accelerate the rollout. All of the company’s 180,000 hourly workers will be eligible for this permanent benefit.

“As we continue to make investments in our employees, we strengthen our greatest competitive edge — because when our team members win, our guests win,” Gene Lee, CEO of Darden Restaurants, says.

Darden’s hourly employees will accrue one hour of sick leave for every 30 hours they work. Current employees will immediately have access to the benefit, while new hires, who will begin accruing paid sick leave as soon as they start, can use it after 90 days of employment.

Almost all organizations provide paid vacation (98%) and sick leave (95%) to some or all employees, according to the Society for Human Resource Management. This is now most commonly provided through a combined PTO bank covering both options, which is provided by 62% of employers.

However, paid leave is not a guarantee for all U.S. employees and federal law doesn’t require employers to provide this. Currently, just 12 states, including Washington D.C. do require employers to provide paid sick leave. Often, part time workers without paid sick time may still go to work, as they don’t want to miss out on their pay.

“No one in America should have to go to work sick just to make ends meet,” Senator Bernie Sanders tweeted on Wednesday. “Our coronavirus response must mean joining the rest of the industrialized world to guarantee paid sick leave for all.”

Darden is also planning to enhance its current benefits, which already provides access to flexible schedules, paid family and medical leave, healthcare plans, 401(k) with company match and extensive training.

Other employers taking steps to protect workers from exposure to coronavirus include Walmart, which has created an emergency leave policy for workers. ComPsych added a webinar to its global platform to help clients’ employees cope with the global outbreak. And Quizzify, a health literacy quiz platform, has created a quiz on the coronavirus for employees to test their knowledge and receive education on the best ways to protect against the virus.

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