Calling in sick?

Discussion in 'Professional Chefs' started by fairfieldchef, Apr 18, 2006.

  1. fairfieldchef

    fairfieldchef

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    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.
     
  2. aurora

    aurora

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    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.
     
  3. thelittlecook

    thelittlecook

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    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...
     
  4. andrew563

    andrew563

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    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.
     
  5. pete

    pete Moderator Staff Member

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    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.
     
  6. chef kaiser

    chef kaiser

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    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
     
  7. plongeur

    plongeur

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    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...
     
  8. n00bchef

    n00bchef

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    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
     
  9. even stephen

    even stephen

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    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.
     
  10. henry

    henry

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    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.
     
  11. pete

    pete Moderator Staff Member

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    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.
     
  12. nicko

    nicko Founder of Cheftalk.com Staff Member

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    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.
     
  13. panini

    panini

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    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.
     
  14. nicko

    nicko Founder of Cheftalk.com Staff Member

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    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.
     
  15. pete

    pete Moderator Staff Member

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    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.
     
  16. nicko

    nicko Founder of Cheftalk.com Staff Member

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    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.
     
  17. fairfieldchef

    fairfieldchef

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    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!
     
  18. blueschef

    blueschef

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    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).
     
  19. warchef

    warchef

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    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..
     
  20. nowiamone

    nowiamone

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    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.