Union Square Hospitality, the brainchild of Danny Meyer—the power restaurateur behind iconic spots like Gramercy Tavery and Union Square Café—will become the first major New York restaurant group to offer paid parental leave for its employees.
Though all American businesses are required by federal law to grant employees with a year of experience 12 weeks of unpaid leave following the birth or adoption of a child, paid parental leave is a rarity in the hospitality industry as a whole. While Union Square Hospitality Group's corporate office has operated under this parental leave policy since 2015, it is now ready to be introduced into its numerous dining establishments.
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Meyer's newest initiative is sure to make waves in an industry that in the past has followed Meyer's lead on key issues like wages and tipping. The restaurateur drew attention last October when he announced a groundbreaking plan to convert all of his restaurants into tip-free—or "hospitality included"—establishments, allowing them to raise employee's wages to ensure proper compensation.
Now, the company is attempting to make similar strides towards a more universal paid parental leave system, starting with its own restaurants. Beginning in 2017, all full-time employees who have been at the company for more than one year—including front- and back-of-house staff; mothers, fathers, and domestic partners—will earn 100 percent of their base wage for four weeks after their child's birth or adoption. After this period, they will be able to take home 60 percent of their wage for the following four weeks.
Unfortunately for the burger slingers at Shake Shack, the company—which became an independent entity in 2015—won't operate under the new leave policy. Though the plan won't go into effect until next year, if Meyer's past history of influence is any indication, a number of restaurants are sure to follow suit in no time.
To try your hand at some of the Union Square Hospitality Group chefs' best recipes, from Daniel Humm's pea soup to Tom Colicchio's rabbit ragout, click here.