Sodexo, a major provider of food service management to senior living communities and skilled nursing facilities, has extended its sick leave policies to cover workers affected by COVID-19.

The company will ensure sick pay for all full- and part-time employees for up to 21 work days if they have a confirmed case of COVID-19 or are asked not to come to work for COVID-19 related symptoms. Vacation time and other paid time off will not have to be used during any COVID-19 related absences.

“Sodexo is committed to the health and safety of our employees, our clients and the communities we serve, and that includes supporting our employees where we can if they get sick as they service our clients,” Sodexo USA President Sarosh Mistry said. “As the service industry deals with the business implications of COVID-19, it’s just as important that we look at the human impact of our work as it is that we look at the bottom line.”

After employees exhaust their accrued sick leave, Sodexo will provide additional sick leave for up to 21 regularly scheduled workdays at no cost to the employee and regardless of how many sick days the employee has accrued. If the employee is unable to return to work at that point, then he or she will be permitted to borrow up to seven additional days of sick leave.

The Families First Coronavirus Response Act, signed into law March 18 in response to the coronavirus, requires most employers to guarantee paid sick leave for 14 days at at least two-thirds of employees’ regular pay rates. Workers qualify if they are sick and have to be quarantined or treated, or if they need to care for an infected family member or a child whose childcare setting closes.

Sodexo announced its policy, which exceeds the requirement, on the same day.

Researchers who previously have studied the role paid sick leave has in stopping a contagious virus urged the government and more employers to act.

“Those who lack paid sick leave are highly represented among food service workers, day care workers and home health aides, who work in positions that can greatly influence the health of others, especially the elderly, vulnerably ill, and children,” said LeaAnne DeRigne, Ph.D., an associate professor at Florida Atlantic University.


Aramark will continue to serve customers

Foodservice firm Aramark will continue to serve senior living firms and other customers during the COVID-19 pandemic, the company announced.

“We recognize that in this fast-moving environment, it is appropriate to be in more frequent communication with our stakeholders, and this communication is a first step in that direction,” CEO John Zillmer said. The firm operates in 18 countries, with the largest presence in Canada, Chile, China, Germany, Ireland and the United Kingdom.

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“The COVID-19 virus has impacted all of us — our associates, customers, suppliers and communities — in unprecedented ways. Issues related to food accessibility and increasing food insecurity of our most vulnerable populations are adding to the unease in our communities,” Sysco President and CEO Kevin Hourican said.

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