New Leave Law Making Restaurateurs Sick

San Francisco is the first U.S. city to be required to offer sick leave to restaurant employees, by a law that goes into effect this week. Get ready for prices to rise.

Approved by voters last November, the law requires city employers to provide sick leave to full- and part-time employees, at a rate of one hour for every 30 hours worked. In an industry where paid leave is nearly unheard of and operating margins are often slim, restaurant owners are worried about the implications.

“Between this sick leave law and raising the minimum wage, pretty soon the only ones who can afford to do business in the city will be chains,” said Richard Crain, owner of San Francisco’s Village Grill, in an article in the San Francisco Chronicle titled “S.F. Businesses Scramble Over Sick Leave Law.” The minimum wage in San Francisco was recently raised to $9.14, higher than the minimum for the state, and this along with the sick leave law is putting a strain on local businesses.

Chronicle restaurant critic Michael Bauer weighed in on the subject on his blog, Between Meals.

It worries me that these changes may threaten San Francisco’s dominance as one of the best, most affordable dining cities in the world. Regardless of what happens, we’re going to have to get used to paying more.

Peter Romeo, writing for the National Food Service blog, has something to say on the matter as well. Though he admits that restaurant workers preparing food while sick is a danger to patrons, and acknowledges that something needs to be done about it, he is against laws that require a solution.

The trade should push hard now to prevent the Bay City’s set-up from being adopted as a model by other municipalities, counties and possibly even states. The benefit that was mandated there is out of whack with any business sense.

Does he have an alternate solution? Of course not.

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