Small Business in the Spotlight
Jul 26, 2010
Providing Paid Sick Days is "the Right Thing to Do"
Seventeen years ago, Rosanne Martino began managing One if By Land, Two if by Sea, an upscale restaurant in New York City's Greenwich Village. As a manager, she wanted to make sure the small business continued to grow and attract customers and also maintain high quality service. One of the surest ways to do so, she decided, was to maintain morale among the restaurant's employees.
"The heart of the restaurant is the dishwasher," she said.
By that, she says she means that each employee is essential to the organization, from the dishwasher, to the servers, to the chefs and to the management. Two of Rosanne's first management decisions were expanding employee benefits and helping some of the lower-paid workers access those benefits.
Initially, she convinced the restaurant owner to contribute 25 percent for employees' health insurance premiums. Not surprisingly, expanding benefits helped the restaurant hold on to quality employees. Today, the business offers a comprehensive benefits package that includes health care coverage, 401k plans and paid sick leave. And, the business is as successful as ever. It has 65 full- and part-time employees.
Rosanne says she recognizes that many other small businesses don't offer their employees benefits such as paid sick time. She said that she would like the federal government to enact a paid sick days law to level the playing field and ensure all businesses, especially those who are already doing the right thing for their employees, can remain competitive.
Most importantly, though, she said, "the bosses - those making the decisions for a business - would never work in a job that did not offer paid sick days." They shouldn't expect their employees to do so, either.
Rosanne is a member of the New York City Restaurant Industry Roundtable, a gathering of restaurant owners, workers, government agencies and city officials that develop strategies that help restaurants take the "high road" toward profitability. The Restaurant Opportunities Center of New York (ROC-NY) is one of the founders and the driving force behind the Roundtable.