I work at a hotel in Ontario, Canada. My boss can be cross and ill tempered. I'm too afraid to speak up, because I don't want boss to blacklist or hate me.

When guests request, my boss still expects me to enter guests' rooms, like to do room service. When I knock on the door, I'm already wearing a mask. But even as I step in the room, many guests still don't put on masks. I'm in the same room with them, but only I am wearing a mask. Obviously this threatens hotel employees.

  1. Can I realistically refuse to enter these guests' rooms?

  2. How can I raise this issue without my employer knowing I raised it?

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    Do you wear a simple surgeon's mask or some high quality like FFP2 that protects yourself, too? Commented Apr 3, 2021 at 13:55
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    Isn't there any policy in place stating what your guests are supposed to do in such a case?
    – Laurent S.
    Commented Apr 3, 2021 at 19:12
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    This is a legal question and off topic here; no idea why it got migrated.
    – mxyzplk
    Commented Apr 3, 2021 at 19:55
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    @mxyzplk It is on topic here because it pertains more to "navigating the professional setting" than to interpretation of laws or legal doctrines. For instance, the OP's 2nd question is about the politics in the OP's workplace, whereas laws don't change based on the employer's [un-]awareness of the OP's issue. Commented Apr 3, 2021 at 20:13
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    @mxyzplk this is exactly the type of question that belongs here. There are no legal issues beyond standard employment issues that someone with a basic understanding of HR can answer. Commented Apr 5, 2021 at 11:58

2 Answers 2


As with every policy, first make sure you are looking for the right thing. You want to be protected. That is not only human, but also your employers legal obligation in any civilized country.

I'm in the same room with them, but only I am wearing a mask. Obviously this threatens hotel employees.

Now I'm not a medical professional, but this is what medical professionals have told us over the past year: A surgeons mask is used to minimize the aerosol "cloud" that contains virus droplets. In other words, it reduces the footprint of someone who is contagious. You would need to get closer to them to get the same "dosage" of virus. So we are told to wear masks and keep a distance. Both very good advice.

However, a mask does not work retroactively or magically. Your guest has already breathed, sneezed and coughed in their room for hours without a mask. If they are contagious, their whole room, all surfaces, the air itself is covered in it. Them putting on a mask now would just be a token sign of respect with little to no medical meaning. Like taking of your muddy shoes after you had a grand tour of the whole house.

The correct thing to protect you is to wear personal safety equipment that is required in this situation. That means not just any mask but a mask of FFP2 or FFP3 standard. That kind of mask is designed to protect you. Follow proper protocol, touch surfaces as little as possible, disinfect your hands, do not touch your face.

So, to sum this up: the guest cannot do anything. Them wearing a mask is only useful in shared rooms none of you lived in, like the staircase, elevator, lobby, reception, gift shop or parking garage. Their room is already contaminated (worst case) and no mask wearing from now on on their side will retroactively change that. Asking them to wear a mask or asking your boss to ask them to wear a mask is a fools errand. It does not help you, it only wastes good will on your bosses and your guests side.

So, you must come up with a plan to protect yourself. If you don't have that PPE, first thing, get it now, privately. It's probably around 5$ on Amazon or a pharmacy near you and quite frankly, you should wear it everywhere, not just at work.

Then, go to your boss, tell them why you need this kind of protection and ask how the company will provide it.

Do not talk to the guest about it. Protecting yourself is between you and your company.

  • 3
    Good insights and resolution
    – Kilisi
    Commented Apr 5, 2021 at 9:09
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    +1 for actual science, logic and reason. Commented Apr 5, 2021 at 11:53
  • There's good evidence that the masks protect not only from giving the covid but also getting it. People who wear masks were less likely to get the virus. In the US Navy Ship that got the outbreak found that people who took preventative measures were less likely to get the virus. Of course, best idea is to not go in, but if you do, wearing two masks might be the best idea.
    – Dan
    Commented Apr 7, 2021 at 17:34

How can I raise this issue without my employer knowing I raised it?

You cannot, and should not.

As a service staff member, you follow the employers protocols in regards to guests. If these conflict with your personal beliefs in any way this is not discussed with customers or in front of customers. This is taken care of between your boss and yourself.

So, whenever there is an issue that may lead to a confrontation, you excuse yourself from the customers room and go speak to your boss.

This is not something to be scared to approach the boss about, it impacts directly on safety and the customers end user experience. So is normal procedure within the service industry.

  • 1
    Discuss and voice your concern, but without involving the customer. Great advice!
    – Anthony
    Commented Apr 4, 2021 at 16:45
  • She can and possibly should. Most people are accommodating, it‘s perfectly fine to ask they put on masks for their safety and the employees for the time she is there, if they prefer not to, they may leave. Commented Apr 4, 2021 at 18:17
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    @morbo Although, if the guests have been sitting in a room unmasked for a while, them putting on a mask for a couple of minutes while OP is in the room might not make much difference to the risks.
    – G_B
    Commented Apr 5, 2021 at 0:16

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