Food business staff and illnesses

Staff handling food in food businesses are often not sure when they should work or not when they are ill.

We all get sick from time to time but there are times when being sick will mean you can’t go to work as a food handler.

If you are a food handler - when should you not work?

If you have any of the following symptoms, do not go to work:

  • diarrhea
  • abdominal cramps
  • nausea
  • fever or
  • vomitting.


  • Advise your supervisor if you are unwell or become unwell while at work and do not handle any food
  • You must not work when you are suffering from illnesses which can be transmitted through food. These include gastroenteritis (often called gastro), viral gastro (Norovirus), Hepatitis A and Hepatitis E.
  • Don’t return to work until all your symptoms have stopped for 48 hours.

The Food Standards Code give more details on the Health and hygiene responsibilities of food handlers.


Page last updated: Monday, 15 July 2019