The Free Press, Mankato, MN

Local News

February 21, 2014

Local group pushes for restaurant sick leave

Local group pushes for restaurant sick leave

(Continued)

The group isn't looking to blame local restaurant managers or put them on the defensive. "We know the local managers don't have any authority to make changes with these corporate chains," Good said.

"We think more people can become involved in this. Things start small but can grow in real waves," Good said.

There are a few chains the local group isn't focusing on — Panera, Kentucky Fried Chicken, Little Caesar's Pizza and Five Guys — because they do offer paid sick days to employees.

They said the solution to the problem will require passage of local, state or national laws requiring most businesses to provide paid sick leave.

"I think it would be hard for restaurants to do this individually and remain competitive, so I think it has to become part of legislation," Knox said.

Dan McElroy leads Hospitality Minnesota, which includes the state restaurant association. He said his members are concerned about the state imposing another mandate.

"We're having a discussion about increasing the minimum wage and there's the implementation of the Affordable Care Act and businesses are having difficulty knowing what that's going to cost," McElroy said. "There's some concern of a piling-on effect."

He said many restaurants do provide sick days or flex time for employees who are sick. And he said it's a priority for restaurants to keep sick workers home.

"It's not good for our businesses to have people who are working sick."

He said any added employee costs also risks reducing jobs in the industry. He said some states that have increased the minimum wage significantly saw a reduction in restaurant jobs as more restaurants turned to pay-at-the-counter systems or put iPads on tables for ordering, reducing the number of wait staff needed.

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