The Dos and Don’ts of Calling Out Sick as a Restaurant Worker


For those who work in the restaurant industry, calling in sick isn’t just about personal well-being; it also concerns the health of customers and co-workers. Here’s a detailed guide to explain how to call out sick days professionally, ethically, and with consideration.

The Dos:

Prioritize Health: If you’re genuinely ill, especially if showing symptoms of contagious diseases, it’s essential to prioritize your health and that of others. Restaurant workers are in close contact with food and customers, which means that any illness can spread quickly.

Call As Early As Possible: It’s crucial to give your manager as much notice as possible so they can find someone to cover your shift. The sooner you call, the easier it will be for the team to adjust.

Speak Directly to a Supervisor: Always ensure you’re speaking directly to your manager or supervisor rather than passing the message through a colleague. This reduces the chances of miscommunication.

Be Honest: Honesty is the best policy. If you’re feeling ill, explain your symptoms. Managers will usually appreciate the straightforwardness.

Provide a Doctor’s Note if Required: Some establishments may require a doctor’s note, especially if you take multiple days off. Be prepared to provide one if asked.

Follow Company Protocol: If your establishment has guidelines for calling out sick, make sure you’re familiar with them and follow them to the letter.

Stay Home and Recover: If you’ve taken a sick day, ensure you’re actually using this time to rest and recover. This will allow you to get back to work sooner and in better health.

Understand the Implications: Restaurant operations require teamwork. One missing team member can disrupt the workflow. When you consider calling in sick, understand the ripple effect it might have, from added stress on coworkers to potential revenue loss.

Offer to Help Where You Can: While you shouldn’t go to work sick if you have the capacity, you could offer solutions like suggesting a co-worker who might be available to cover your shift or aiding in any preliminary preparations remotely. However, prioritize your health first.

Check Back In: If you’re out for a day, drop a message or call to check in on the next day’s shift. It shows proactivity and concern for your duties.

Stay Updated: Even while sick, try to stay in the loop if there are any significant changes in the work schedule or special events. It’ll help you reintegrate faster once you’re back.

The Don’ts:

Don’t Make it a Habit: While everyone gets sick now and then, frequently calling out can create an impression of unreliability. Ensure that your sick days are genuine and not a pattern of avoiding work.

Avoid Excessive Details: While it’s essential to be honest, you don’t need to over-explain or go into graphic details about your ailment. A concise explanation will suffice.

Don’t Use Social Media Inappropriately: If you’ve called in sick, it’s not a good idea to post pictures or status updates of you out and about. This can lead to mistrust and issues with management.

Avoid Sending Mixed Signals: If you’ve communicated that you’re too sick to work, it’s inconsistent to offer to come in for just a couple of hours or do tasks from home. Either you’re well enough to work, or you’re not.

Don’t Neglect communication: Avoid simply sending a text or leaving a voicemail. Make the effort to speak directly to a supervisor, even if it means waiting for a callback.

Don’t Forget to Update: If you’re out for multiple days, keep your employer updated about your condition, especially if it turns out you’ll need more time off than initially thought.

Don’t Disregard Minor Symptoms: Especially in today’s context, with heightened awareness about public health due to events like the COVID-19 pandemic, what might seem like a minor cold could be something more. If in doubt, get tested.

Avoid Making Assumptions: Never assume that “it’s just a slow day” or “they’ll manage without me.” Always communicate, and let your supervisors make that call.

Don’t Pressure Yourself unnecessarily: Your health is paramount. While it’s essential to be responsible and considerate, don’t force yourself to work when you’re genuinely ill. A day of rest can be more beneficial for the team in the long run than pushing through sickness.

Avoid Comparison: Just because a coworker powered through their cold doesn’t mean you should. Every individual’s health and tolerance are different. Focus on your well-being.

Tips for Employers and Managers

Open Communication Channels: Foster an environment where employees feel comfortable discussing their health without fear of retribution.

Backup Plans: Always have a backup plan or a pool of part-time workers who can step in during emergencies. This reduces the pressure on regular staff and ensures smooth operations.

Promote Health and Well-being: Consider health initiatives, flu shots during flu season, or workshops on nutrition and well-being.

Flexible Shifts: If feasible, offer flexible shifts or rotations, allowing workers to swap duties if they feel under the weather, ensuring continuous operation without compromising on health.

In Conclusion

Working in the restaurant industry often requires a level of physical stamina and close interaction with others. As such, it’s crucial to ensure you’re fit to work. Taking sick days responsibly and considerately helps ensure a healthy environment for everyone, from colleagues to customers. Always prioritize health and open communication, and remember that every individual’s role in a restaurant team is vital for smooth operations.


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