I know a lot of you run your own kitchen and might even own your own place, so I was just wondering what your thought were on the proposed restructuring of overtime pay laws or that some places right now don't pay overtime. I personally think that is a bunch of crap that you would not be fairly compensated for the work and time that you do. Some famous chefs have argued that it is not about the money, but about the knowledge and experience you gain from working there. That is all fine and good, but you can't pay your rent with "experience". I can't go to the grocery store and say "Oh, I work at X famous restaurant, so that will suffice, right?" Maybe in the olden days this was acceptable, but I don't think that should be the case anymore. People should be paid what they deserve.
An Honest Day's Wage For An Honest Day's Work
Here in B.C. Canada, we have some of the most stringent laws protecting the worker imaginable. That being said, once you sign up for salary, a.k.a. monthly wages instead of $/hr, all protection regarding overtime is lost. Ditto for signing a contract--no protection.
I worked in some pretty fine 5 star places in Europe. The general rule then (80's/90's) was that the higher the reputation, the lower the wages, and the longer the hours. The places also knew the value of an employer's testimonial, and they milked it for all it was worth. Some guys I knew had to borrow money just to pay rent and get their uniforms cleaned because the salary wouldn't cover it.
I think Monty Python said it best in the song "When you really look at it, life's a piece of sh*t". There are very few independent places actually making money, especially when you factor in that the owner doesn't draw a salary.
I dunno.... Last month my kid came home telling me that a representitive of the Labour board came to his highschool and informed them of their rights as future workers. The one thing that really stuck in his head was that the whole assembly were TOLD never to tip an owner of a restaurant, as they were not entitled to receive tips--only employees could.
As I live in Canada as well and have worked and owned businesses in BC, Alberta and NS, I know what @foodpump says is quite true. Although stunned at such a statement made about owners and tips. I never took tips as an owner nor even a manager because I felt that the employees deserve the tips. That still is an asinine statement to make by the Labour relations people. I have had a small business and was helping customers all the time alongside my employees. Does this mean that my employees miss out on tips because I was the one helping some customers and they refuse to tip me because I am the owner?? Crazy.
Throughout my career in this industry I have found that we are lacking the insight and gumption to demand at minimum a LIVING WAGE as well as charge our customers the going rate of food. If the price of food inventory goes up then so should the prices reflect that. There is far too much backward thinking in this industry that has to change in order for it to move forward into the future. (wishful thinking....lol)
@ChefMannyDLM you are absolutely bang on about not being able to pay with experience. It is a BS practice that I find disgusting in this industry. I paid my workers a staring wage of $15/hour and it went up from there. I was also able to arrange full medical and dental to my full time employees. For my 9 years in business that I just sold to an employee, there were two that were with me for 8 years, one for 7 years and three for 5 1/2 years.
Slavery...er, I mean salary...that's another issue. When you're on salary you just have to take your lumps. If you're hourly I'm a strong believer in complying with all the laws regarding overtime. The wink-and-a-nod insistence that employees work off the clock in unconscionable and illegal. I understand that it's common in some very good restaurants but that doesn't change the immorality and illegality of it. Plus it's a liability landmine, or at least it can be in my state. If you have someone injured while working off the clock what do yo do?
In the US that is a lawsuit waiting to happen.
I worked for a Michelin Star Chef, the wage wasn't great, and the state taxes didn't help either. The hours were long, not to mention the ones I gave off the clock of my own free will to learn more. The place was a gold mine for knowledge, the people who were there genuinely wanted to be there because they loved making great food. I learned so much, best line I ever worked, after I left and moved to no Michelin Star land to make cuisine (not remotely on par), I got paid a lot more, nearly tripple my yearly income from the prior restaurant. That being said, it weighs heavy on the soul being able to make great food and have a wealth of knowledge, and be treated like it's all irrelevant and just make their food because that's what your paid to do.
So chef advice: It sucks I know, but if they are really fine dining and reputable, (actually reputable, not just state and city reputable, but nationally reputable, or globaly reputable. Recognized via Michelin Star or James Beard etc.) it will carry you later on.
Douche advice: Quit and become kitchen manager at applebees, make 80 a year plus benefits and slacker hours.
Double douche: Get out of the industry, make money by becoming a stock broker.
Unfortunatly "waiting" is the key word there. Find a lawyer to take your case, years in court and all the while no medical care paid for, no income replacement. Nothing but screwed.
The almost complete disregard and enforcement of fair labor laws and practice in the restaurant industry is shamefull.
I like Obamas idea of raising the salary wage for overtime. Now you can pay someone 23,660.00 and have them work all the necessary hours to get the job done. The new salary wage is going to 50,440. yr before you have to pay overtime, but that salary comes with living quarters
Edited by Lagom - 7/19/15 at 8:45am
Paying people a lot isnt the issue. Paying people fair and to legal standards is the issue. If your business model doesnt provide for you to pay your labor for the time worked then your business model needs yo be re evaluated. Being realistic is being a business first, that way you have a place to display your art.
+1. Following the law is not optional, at least for most people. Obviously the higher up the ladder you do the less the law applies to you but if your business model doesn't allow for paying legal wages you don't deserve to stay open.
+1+1 to that.....if you can't afford to pay people fair LIVING WAGES then YOU should not be in this industry or any others as an owner. If your food cost is high then your menu prices should compensate for the cost of the food coming in.......period. However, I still believe if you do not understand BUSINESS then you should not own one.
I laugh at the insane amount of "that is just the way it is" mentality......lol.....really?? If that is just the way it is then how come you are not just given a small straw mat in the corner of cold kitchens at night with a threadbare blanket and clothes and mere scraps of food to eat?? Because that is just the way it WAS when you were cooking in the kitchens learning a guild trade back in the day. Whew, thank goodness for the outside the box thinkers and people who stood up for themselves and others, huh??