Almost 90 percent of restaurant workers in the United States do not have access to paid sick days.

Unsavory, a new mobile game available for iOS and Android devices, lets players take the role of these workers preparing food to see if they can survive a month on the job while sick.

Developed by NERDLab at the University of Miami in collaboration with Restaurant Opportunities Centers (ROC) United, the game creators hope to raise awareness about the lack of paid sick days and the potential for a public health crisis. During the H1N1 flu pandemic of 2009, employees who attended work while sick were estimated to have caused the infection of as many as 7 million co-workers.

Assistant Professor Clay Ewing, who heads the NERDLab at UM’s School of Communication, said: “I hope the game’s message resonates with players and prompts a larger discussion about sick days.”

“No one should have to choose between their job and staying home sick to take care of themselves or their children, but unfortunately that’s the reality for most restaurant workers,” said Maria Myotte, communications director at ROC. “The vast majority of the restaurant industry’s more than 11 million employees do not have paid sick days, and our research shows that 60 percent of restaurant workers have had to work while sick.”

Myotte said that the biggest opponent to paid sick day legislation is actually the corporate restaurant lobby, the National Restaurant Association. The game educates consumers and encourages them to speak up in favor of paid sick time every time they dine out.

Ewing said that the game is a combination of memory, matching and speed, where players put together orders at a fictitious restaurant named Rocket Taco. Just as players are settling into their job, flu season arrives. Wipe your nose continuously on the job or stay home sick without pay? Pressure is building, one taco at a time.

Unsavory is available for free on the App Store, Google Play, and the Amazon App Store. For more information, please visit