Restaurant Owners Are Quietly Freaking Out Over Health-Care Reform

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He should've called in sick. Photo: istockphoto

Restaurateurs are seemingly sick at the thought of health-care reform. A couple of days ago Nations Restaurant News reported that the National Restaurant Association opposed certain provisions in the bill that was recently passed by the House, requiring business with a payroll of over $500,000 to offer benefits to part-time employees or pay a penalty (the NRA wants broader exemptions for small businesses) and requiring calorie labeling among chains with twenty or more locations. New York City restaurateurs are also facing changes on the local level: Nations Restaurant News reports that yesterday, small-business owners rallied on the steps of City Hall against a measure that already exists in San Francisco and Washington D.C. and is currently being considered by the New York City Council.

The bill would require that all businesses with ten or more employees offer nine days of paid sick leave, something Landmarc restaurateur Marc Murphy says would cost him $199,000 per year. Thats a lot of money, even for me, Murphy tells Nations Restaurant News. It would hurt my business and maybe even cause me to have to close one of my smaller restaurants. (Good-bye, Ditch Plains!) Murphy says hed rather invest that money in a new restaurant where he can hire more employees. For the record, Murphys restaurants currently offer five sick days, five personal days, and one week of vacation, so dont worry that a line cook who has swine flu but cant afford to take a night off is coughing into your mussels at Landmarc. Oh, except they only get those benefits after a year of working there.

Industry lobbyists prescribe changes to House health care bill [NRN]
Paid sick leave takes center stage in NYC [NRN]