Fire up! The restrictions on public dining are relaxing.

According to the Guardian, cafes and restaurants – including dine-in services at pubs, clubs and casinos – in Perth and Western Australia are allowed to seat 20 diners, as long as they follow the four sq metres per person rule.

Restaurant work is a tough gig as it is. During a pandemic, you should evaluate your current protocols and consider revising them if needed to keep not only your patrons and guests healthy but your employees as well.

Here are two valuable things that you can do for your staff during this health crisis.

1. Paid Sick Leave Program

Perhaps the most obvious solution.

As it is, the people who handle food are already overworked & underpaid. This situation raises the prospect that people will spread the virus because they can’t afford to take home a smaller paycheck.

In these trying times, the fear of losing an income is becoming a primal one for most people. You may not have offered paid sick leave before the coronavirus pandemic. Perhaps now you can reevaluate things on how you can apply this.

A sick employee who works and gets paid by the hour faces a double whammy. They can put you, your other employees and your patrons at risk if they come to work so as not to lose out on wages.

On the other hand, it will be difficult for them to make ends meet if they stay at home.

There have been reasonably significant movements toward paid sick leave of some sort- whether it’s an accrued program or if it is some paid medical sick leave up to a 14-day quarantine to deal with this coronavirus aspect. The paid sick leave aspect, perhaps, is the silver lining in this very dark time. Companies are changing their operational and employment guidelines in how they’ll be dealing with employees from CEOs receiving salary pay cuts to employee fundraising measures.

The bottom line is to create a way to ensure that your staff is not faced with a choice between endangering others and earning a steady paycheck.

Paid sick leaves for your employees can make all the difference in your staff’s wellbeing and tenure at your restaurant.

2. Promote Mental Health

Mental health experts believe that the long-term mental health impact of this pandemic is an alarming issue that we will soon face. There was little chance to prepare for or process the changes in our lives in terms of job losses.

After physical distancing measures are lifted or even after the pandemic is over, what will our situation be like? Even if people can get back to whatever they consider as normal, financial pressures will still be present. There will also be a challenge to re-engage with the world in a new way. These can be difficult for a lot of people and those are precisely the kinds of risk factors that lead to increased rates of depression anxiety and even suicide.

RELATED READ: Why Chefs Should Speak Up About Their Mental Health

Governments need to step up to ensure proper programs are funded and that many people will be able to access them.

The Australian government has pledged to support mental health amid the nation’s coronavirus crisis. But employers will also have to play a role. Employers need to realize that when we start to loosen some of the restrictions that we’re currently facing, we can’t go back to the way the world was overnight.

  • Uncertainty is an awful mental stressor particularly when it comes to employment. Talk to your staff about their benefits, especially about healthcare. Talk to them about what you can currently offer and what their options are. Be open to discussion and ideas on how to solve any dilemma in this aspect.
  • Make sure your network of connections with your employees stays strong during this period. Much has been said about social distancing and all the critically important health messages. But the social distancing being referred to is all about physical space; it’s not about failing to stay in contact.
  • We are lucky to be living at a time where mindfulness apps are available to help people with anxiety. Check out these mental health apps reviewed and approved by the ADAA (Anxiety and Depression Association of America) and consider getting subscriptions for your staff.
  • Encourage your team to refer to useful information resources. Everybody needs to know what’s going on at the moment, but it is not healthy to obsessively consume media for all of the updates. The whole world is closed down to scrolling through social media to see what’s happening next and often a lot of the material available is not that reliable. Share valuable and accurate information from your state’s health department.
  • Communicate regular updates to your staff to keep everyone calm. During your pre-shift meetings, consider including a two-minute daily update on the situation.
  • Remind and encourage your team to make sure that there’s some regularity in their day. For many people, that routine is provided by the rhythms of work. Right now, the rhythms of normal life have been disrupted. Even simple morning routines are beneficial. Check out this list and share.
  • Hang helpful posters and infographics on coping with this stressful current scenario in easy access locations.
  • Let your employees feel that their voice can be heard and that they can come to you for support.


In Summary:

We are all experiencing a complete uprooting of everyday life. I understand that some of what’s mentioned above is easier said than done. Yet at the end of the day, your employees are extensions of your business. In better days, they have provided the service that made your business operation possible. Please consider them as well during this difficult time.


That’s it for this week.
As always, Professional Chefs on Call at Anytime!

Ciao for now,

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