If anyone has visited San Francisco in the last few years you may have noticed at several restaurants a surcharge of 3% on your check, this is what we know here as “Healthy SF” or San Francisco’s Healthy Care Security Ordinance. In 2008 the city mandated universal healthcare came into effect and required employers to spend a minimum amount of healthcare for their employees. In the restaurant industry this translates to adding a 3% surcharge to the bill, however many places just build the cost of the healthcare into the menu prices without listing the surcharge. The collected money goes into a fund for the employees medical benefits and we are able to get reimbursed for many things through a program called flex-plan. According to the Office of Labor Standards Enforcement the city collected 14 million last year and only 1/3 of that was used for actual medical coverage…soooo where did the rest go? The San Francisco Civil Grand Jury has found that some of these establishments adding surcharges have been benefitting financially from the intended employee funds that go unclaimed after a certain amount of time. My restaurant in particular is one of those places that adds the 3% surcharge and we are constantly berated by customers because of the surcharge that we have no control over. I understand that it is annoying to travel to a new city and be met with a new surcharge on the bottom of your check that you have no knowledge about, but please do not yell at your server for a fee they have no control over. I have literally been told numerous times to take it off the check because it is not their responsibility to pay for my insurance or health benefits, but I can do nothing because according to company policy it is a city mandated practice. Sometimes I wish they would build the fees into the menu prices so we wouldn’t have to deal with these awkward situations. To the program’s defense I have used the benefits and it is nice but I personally have individual insurance also because the small amount I have in my account would do nothing for me in the event of an emergency. I believe the employees would be better served by the option to sign on to an employer offered third party insurance program as opposed to the flawed Healthy SF program where it seems many restaurants are benefitting off funds intended for staff.
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