Chipotle has nurses who check if workers are actually sick or just hungover

Posted at 1:59 PM, Dec 09, 2019

Chipotle Mexican Grill is taking a different approach at managing sick employees and safeguarding customers from illnesses.

At a Barclays conference last week, CEO Brian Niccol said the restaurant chain now has nurses on call who check whether some workers who call in sick are actually ill or just hungover, Business Insider reports.

"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," said Niccol.

In a statement sent to Business Insider , Chipotle's vice president of food safety said only some workers speak to a nurse when they call in sick, but all employees are entitled to paid sick leave.

Chipotle is taking these steps in effort to improve its food-safety practices after several high-profile safety scares, including an E-coli outbreak in 2015 that forced dozens of locations to close and norovirus outbreak that sickened Virginia customers in 2017.

Business Insider reports that an investigation into the 2017 case found the norovirus outbreak was caused by store managers who failed to follow safety procedures and an employee working while the person was unwell.

The efforts to safeguard against illness is going beyond keeping sick workers home, too. Niccol says Chipotle is now cleaning its restaurants with norovirus-killing cleaner.

"Even though our team member did nothing wrong — there was nothing wrong with our food — we have to hold ourselves to a higher standard to make sure that the dining room gets sanitized in a way that it hasn't been in the past," said Niccol.