Darden restaurants roll out paid sick leave for hourly employees

Employees can earn 1 hour of paid sick leave per 30 hours

ORLANDO, Fla. – Orlando-based restaurant company Darden announced Tuesday the company will now offer paid sick leave for every hourly employee across its 1,700 restaurants.

Darden Restaurants spokesman Rich Jeffers said in an email to News 6 the new policy is effective immediately.

The company’s restaurant brands include Olive Garden, The Capital Grille, Seasons 52, Bahama Breeze, Longhorn Steakhouse, Yard House and Eddie V’s Prime Seafood.

Sick leave will be acquired at one hour per 30 hours worked, according to the email. The pay rate will be based on the staff member’s 13-week average.

Current staff will have a sick-paid leave balance based on their most recent 26 weeks of work and can use the benefits beginning Tuesday. New employees may use their sick leave after 90 days of employment.

Darden restaurant employees will be able to carry over up to 40 hours a year with a maximum balance of 60 hours, according to the announcement.

The plan to roll-out paid sick leave was in the works for some time and wasn’t in response to the coronavirus, company officials said, however, the plan was accelerated due to the current environment.

Darden employs more than 180,000 across 1,700 restaurants, according to its website.

The company is also “enhancing” current benefits, including paid family and medical leave, healthcare and retirement plans, according to Jeffers.

“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," Darden Restaurants 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.”