business news in context, analysis with attitude

Yesterday MNB took note of a New York Daily News story about how Chipotle employees only are allowed to take a sick day if they get a note from a medical professional. The company has a nurse on call to whom employees have to reach out before taking a day off; it is all part of the company's emphasis on food safety.

But, I commented:

I don't get it. First of all, this strikes me as reflecting an enormous lack of trust that Chipotle has in its store employees. How, over the phone, will a nurse be able to tel whether it is the beginning of the flu or a hangover?

How many people will go to work - even when not feeling well because they don't want to be cross examined by a nurse?

Not the best approach, I think, for a company that has had more than its share of food safety issues.

MNB reader Bob Overstreet replied:

Do the employees have to sign away their HIPAA  rights?  What if the nurse (over the phone) determines you are not sick?  Does the employee have an appeal right or do they go to work sick?

What if the employee does not want to sign off on giving the employer HIPAA rights?

Sounds like a misstep.

But MNB reader Scott Nelson provided some more context:

I had the same response initially when I heard the story on a radio news report.  They then added an audio clip from a Chipotle spokesperson who clarified that they will pay for a sick day if the employee calls the nurse.   Paid sick days are available from day one of employment at Chipotle.   To me it sounds like the nurse policy is to prevent employees from faking sick while giving them an incentive to stay home if they are ill.   To me this is a smart move.

Regarding the declining Christmas tree market, MNB reader Jackie Lembke wrote:

As much as my husband would love a real tree, due to allergies we have always had a plastic one. Since my children were raised on artificial trees, they don't have real ones either. Never a tradition to go chop our own. Not planning on starting the tradition at this point.

But MNB reader George Denman wrote:

One of the first things that I encountered with my wife’s family for our 1st Christmas together was their annual tradition of heading out to the country to choose their live tree. In over 35 years of marriage nary a fake tree has ever entered the Denman household. It helps that we have a Christmas tree farm in our backyard and normally we go there with her family as well and come back for a hot chili lunch and then watch some football.

This year I decided to do something different. My family has a 680 acre Christmas tree farm in upstate NY, just 20 minutes south of Syracuse. I drove 8 hours to cut a live tree there, a first for me, and brought it back on top of the Jeep all the way to Cincinnati. Thirty minutes outside of the farm I hit a horrible ice storm that nearly shut down the NYS Thru-way. Check the picture of my car at a rest stop encrusted in ice. The good news is that I made it home safe 10 hours later with the tree still attached to the roof of the Jeep. This will be one of the best trees ever…. Merry Christmas!

Wait a minute. You have a Christmas tree farm in your backyard and your family owns a Christmas tree farm?

Talk about an embarrassment of riches.
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