Tuesday, December 8, 2020

Coronavirus Update 12-8-2020: Tipped restaurant and other service workers at high risk for “maskual harassment"

Everyone has been hit hard during the COVID-19 pandemic. Service industry employees, however, have been hit particularly hard. Many are out of work. And those that are able to work are worker fewer hours and earning less in wages and tips.

Moreover, according to this survey (h/t: NPR), a majority of service industry workers are being forced to choose between earning valuable tips and staying safe by wearing a mask.

Consider these statistics regarding tipped employees:

  • 78% report experiencing or witnessing hostile behavior from customers in response to staff enforcing COVID-19 safety protocols.
  • 83% report that their tips have declined during COVID-19, with two-thirds reporting a decline of more than half.
  • 58% report feeling reluctant to enforce COVID-19 protocols out of concern that customers would tip them less. 
  • 67% report actually having received a lesser than usual tip after enforcing COVID-19 protocols.
  • 84% report being within six feet of at least one person who is not wearing a mask in every shift, and one-third report being within six feet of 30 or more maskless individuals on every shift.

The kicker: 37% of tipped workers reported that their employer had not conducted a mandatory training on COVID safety protocols and 69% reported that their employer is not consistently following all COVID safety protocols.

This is unacceptable. Restaurant workers are on the front lines of this virus working inside one of this pandemic's most dangerous spreading environments. They shouldn't have to be de facto safety sheriffs, enforcing mask mandates and other health rules. Yet, that is the position in which many of their employers have put them, which, according to the above survey, is often without training or the enforcement of COVID safety rules. 

Employees should not be placed in the position of enforcing COVID safety rules with a customer, especially when they risk the loss of tips and revenue as a result. Employers, do your part. Train your workers and set up a system of enforcement that takes your front-line workers out of the enforcement equation.

* Photo by Kevin Grieve on Unsplash