Orlando-based Darden Restaurants to offer paid sick leave amid coronavirus

KISSIMMEE, FLORIDA, UNITED STATES - 2019/01/25: Olive Garden restaurant billboard ad. (Photo by John Greim/LightRocket via Getty Images)

Darden Restaurants announced on Monday that they will provide paid sick leave to all hourly workers not currently covered by an insurance policy due to the growing concern over the coronavirus. This comes at the same time the company escalated its sanitation efforts.

Darden spokesman Rich Jeffers said the Orlando-based company has been working on a sick leave policy for awhile, but the plan was accelerated because of the current concerns over COVID-19.

According to FOX BUSINESS, under the policy, "sick leave will accrue at a rate of one hour for every 30 worked, and current Darden employees will be credited for hours worked in their most recent 26 weeks. New employees will accrue time when they start working, but they cannot use the time earned until they’ve reached 90 days of employment."

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The pay rate will be based on the employee’s 13-week average.

"We are fortunate to have outstanding team members working in our restaurants committed to bringing our brands to life and creating lasting memories for our guests," Darden Restaurants President & CEO Gene Lee said. "As we continue to make investments in our employees, we strengthen our greatest competitive edge — because when our team members win, our guests win.”

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Jeffers said the restaurants have increased sanitation standards, conducting hourly handwashing checks and more frequently sanitizing areas that guests touch, such as door handles and condiments.

According to the latest data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, 55% of workers in the "accommodation and food services" industry have no paid sick leave.