Workers get credited for past 26 weeks.
Darden Restaurants, parent of Olive Garden, announced that it now provides paid sick leave to hourly employees amid growing concerns with the coronavirus.
The brand said the new benefit has been discussed for a while—prior to the outbreak—but its rollout was accelerated because of COVID-19. Current workers will gain one hour of paid sick leave for every 30 hours worked, starting with the past 26 weeks. New employees can build sick leave as soon as they start, but cannot use the benefit until after 90 days of employment. The pay rate is based on the employee’s 13-week average.
In addition to Olive Garden, Darden owns LongHorn Steakhouse, Cheddar’s Scratch Kitchen, Yard House, The Capital Grille, Seasons 52, Bahama Breeze, and Eddie V’s. The company employs approximately 185,000 in more than 1,700 restaurants.
According to data, only 25 percent of workers in the industry have paid sick leave.
“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," CEO Gene Lee said in a statement. "As we continue to make investments in our employees, we strengthen our greatest competitive edge because when our team members win, our guests win.”
Darden is scheduled to report its third-quarter performance on March 19.
In Q2, Olive Garden comp sales rose 1.5 percent, its 21st consecutive quarter of growth. Same-store sales at LongHorn grew 6.7 percent—its 27th straight period in the black—and traffic was up 3.2 percent.
Darden’s total sales rose 4.2 percent to $2.06 billion, driven by the addition of 37 net new restaurants and a same-store sales increase of 2 percent. Net income stood at $25.4 million, or 21 cents per share.
Seasons 52’s comps dipped 3.5 percent; Bahama Breeze was down 3.4 percent; Cheddar’s Scratch Kitchen fell 1.2 percent; The Capital Grille gained 1.8 percent; Eddie V’s 0.5 percent; and the Yard House upped 0.7 percent.