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Darden begins offering paid sick leave to all workers amid coronavirus outbreak

Customers arrive at an Olive Garden location in San Antonio, Texas.

Callaghan O’Hare | Bloomberg | Getty Images

Darden Restaurants is providing paid sick leave for all hourly workers across its restaurant chains.

Olive Garden’s parent company said Monday that it has been working on the policy for a while, but sped up the process due to the COVID-19 outbreak

Employees will accrue one hour of sick leave for every 30 worked. The pay rate will be based on the worker’s 13-week average. Current employees can use the benefit immediately, and their starting balance is based on their most recent 26 weeks of work. New hires, who will begin accruing paid sick leave as soon as they start, can use it after 90 days of employment.

Popular Information, a politics-focused newsletter, recently reported on Darden’s lack of paid sick leave, which is common in the restaurant industry but could deter ill employees from calling out sick.

In addition to Olive Garden, Darden operates Longhorn Steakhouse, The Capital Grille, Eddie V’s, Cheddar’s Scratch Kitchen, Yard House, Seasons 52 and Bahama Breeze.

The company’s stock, which has a market value of $9.9 billion, was up nearly 2% in afternoon trading Tuesday amid broader market gains. Shares of Darden have fallen 17% over the last week as investors fear that the virus will mean fewer customers going out to eat. 

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