One night of business following exposure of the practice, Bleu Bistro’s Grotto will eliminate its 1.9% sick leave surcharge.
“We’re going to take it off and we’re going to raise our prices,” Bleu owner Ross McCartney told CHS Tuesday afternoon. “I thought I was being transparent. I just found out people don’t want that.”
McCartney said he decided to stop adding the charge Tuesday and he’ll likely raise prices with the E Olive Way bistro’s next menu printing.
“A tipster provided us with her receipt, which includes a $1.54 ‘City Ord. S.S.L. Charge’—a reference to ‘safe and sick leave,'” Publicola posted Monday along with an image of the receipt and plenty of questions for McCartney.
The safe and sick leave law requires companies with five or more employees to give workers leave for illness or to care for sick family. It was signed by the mayor right here on the Hill in a ceremony at Plum Bistro in fall 2011.
McCartney tells CHS he wants it to be clear that he supports the law and paying sick leave — in fact, he says, his strong adherence to the law is what lead him to decide to include the surcharge so customers would see the cost as a clear line item.
But the move could be a violation of state law and Publicola reports that its unnamed tipster has filed a complaint with the State Attorney General over the surcharge.
McCartney said he’s done nothing wrong beyond being bad at predicting what the public reaction would be to the charges the bistro has been collecting. “I’m listening to what people want,” he said. “I’m still going to give the benefit. I actually like it — and my employees like it.”
It also helps, of course, that *it* is the law.
McCartney said he doesn’t expect the complaint to lead anywhere serious and also doesn’t plan to try out any new itemization on his receipts any time soon.
“It wasn’t to be this political person,” McCartney said. “There’s a bill that needs to be paid. This seems like the way to do it.”
Here’s more explanation from McCartney in a comment he confirms he posted to the Publicola article:
The employees safe sick leave has been awarded every payperiod via a transfer to their pay check so the fund have been the employees the entire time, not the business but put on the checks to the employees…. it was from day one of the ordinace. It was transfered to PTO ( paid time off ) and the employee still didn’t have to work if they were sick as the ordinance required. I felt giving them the new benifit was good and over charging for a product was the deceptive action but if citizens want hire prices without a reason being put before them then I can do as they require and I can only appologize for being trasparent, as for myself: I appreciate being told that my beer is $4.00 and my Seattle safe sick charge is .06 cents, and so the people want,” what then want’ I will not put the fee on… and raise the prices to accomodate the benifits that I have been giving to my employees. The real question is how many of the bars and small business you support are even giving their employees this benifit, really look and find out… at least I know I abide by the law and give the benifit. Effective today the fee is off, the benifit remains and yes the menu will be reprinted with a price increase. Please remember restaurants just had a bottom line rize in price at the cost of their liquor when we as a State went private business owning and pricing liquor, and as for food …. it seems to be ever climbing for the restaurant owners, you have to be ever changing in this market of inflation of good at the wholesale level that does eventually find its way to the final charge of an item.