Theron Mohamed | 4 December, 2019
Chipotle has nurses check whether employees who call in sick are genuinely unwell or just hungover.
"We have nurses on call, so that if you say, 'Hey, I've been sick,' you get the call into the nurse," CEO Brian Niccol said at a Barclays conference on Wednesday. "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."
The Mexican restaurant chain trumpeted the policy as part of its improved food-safety practices. It suffered a norovirus outbreak among customers in Virginia in 2017, and an internal investigation found it was caused by store managers failing to follow safety procedures and an employee working while they were unwell.
"We have a very different food safety culture than we did two years ago, okay?" Niccol said. "Nobody gets to the back of the restaurant without going through a wellness check."
However, a healthy workforce isn't always enough to prevent customers from getting sick.
"There's probably people in here that might have the common cold," Niccol said at the conference. "Even if we clean up after you, and we don't use a cleaner that kills that germ, it hangs around for the next customer.
"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," he said.
Chipotle has a solution: "We've got cleaner that actually kills norovirus when you clean the tables in the dining room," Niccol said.
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