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Hospitality Industry Needs To Help Itself Before More Handouts

Hospitality businesses need to do their bit to prevent future Covid19 outbreaks by providing sick leave for their workers before asking for more government handouts says Unite Union. With many Auckland hospitality businesses re-opening today under Level 2.5 workers will be going back to work sick because they have no other option according to Unite Union.

“Hospitality employers need to make sure they don’t drive us back into Level 3” said Unite National Secretary Gerard Hehir. “We know that people going to work sick is a major driver of outbreaks and, unfortunately, the hospitality sector is amongst the worst for that behaviour.”

At the height of the Victoria outbreak Premier Daniel Andrews was explicit about the problem, saying people working instead of isolating was “the biggest driver of transmission” and that people with symptoms should stay home even if their bosses tell them otherwise ( Victoria shows coronavirus is a pandemic of casual, insecure work: ABC, 27th July, 2020).

Way back in March Unite raised the issue, especially how difficult it can be for low wage workers to simply take a day off when they are sick (see The Hospitality industry’s sick secret ).

“Having more sick leave days is important but, in the hospitality, the main issue is getting sick leave in the first place. Workers don’t get any sick leave until they have been employed for six months. With annual staff turnover often 70% or more, most hospitality workers on any given day are either not entitled to any sick leave or will have run out of the 5 days legal minimum.”

“Low waged workers, many already having been hit with cuts in pay and hours, are faced with the impossible choice of working while sick or simply not being able to pay the rent or feed themselves and their family. It is little wonder they feel they have no choice but to go to work.”

“There is no doubt many hospitality businesses are suffering. Unite absolutely supports further government assistance where needed, especially to preserve jobs, but those receiving it need to be doing their bit in the fight against Covid19 as well.”

“We look forward to the Hospitality Association publicly supporting the CTU”s campaign to increase both the amount and access to paid sick leave, with government support if needed”

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