The restaurant industry often functions differently than other facets of the business world, offering workers long-hours, precious little job security, and unequal pay. But for years, the Union Square Hospitality Group, under the guidance of its founder and CEO Danny Meyer, has sought to right-size much of the volatility restaurant employees typically endure.
Last year, the Modern, an upscale bar and restaurant attached to Manhattan's Museum of Modern Art, became the first of Meyer's restaurants to do away with the largely arcane practice of tipping, seeking to increasing wages for line cooks and dishwashers while providing stability for servers and bartenders. While the effectiveness of such measures is up for debate, the intent has often been to place workers and their needs above profits and bottom lines.
As was first reported by Eater, Meyer and USHG—which operates New York City mainstays like Gramercy Tavern and Blue Smoke, but not the restaurateur’s popular fast-food chain, Shake Shack—will now start offering paid parental leave to the majority of its employees, marking yet another groundbreaking move for the company.
The new policy will go into effect in 2017, and be made available to all full-time employees who have been with the company for at least a year. For the first four weeks of their leave, workers will be given 100 percent of their base wages; that number then drops to 60 percent should employees choose to take an additional four weeks. The policy includes all mothers, fathers, and domestic parties who have either just had a baby or chosen to adopt.
Though US law makes it mandatory for businesses to offer their full-time employees 12 weeks of unpaid leave, paid time off for new parents is becoming less and less or an anomaly at white collar companies. USHG has offered paid leave to its corporate employees since last year, but the same courtesy has been painfully absent for restaurant workers across the country, both in the front and back of house. As Eater notes, women bear the brunt of the struggles associated with the old system, often forced to choose between caring for a new family, and supporting it financially.