LATHAM, N.Y. (NEWS 10)— The coronavirus pandemic has caused many to file for unemployment, especially those in the restaurant industry. Some restaurant owners are worried that their employees won’t want to come back to work, because they are making more on unemployment.
Don Wade owns Otis and Olivers Restaurant. Since the coronavirus pandemic, he currently has 9 employees who are working, but he has 45 on the staff.
While there isn’t an issue at the moment, he’s worried there will be no incentive for his employees to return to work once they are allowed to.
“If we call people back to work, some of them are making more money on unemployment than they would be if they were working,” said Wade. “So there is nothing for them to come back to unless it’s a loyalty thing, but several of them I already talked to are like ‘nahh, we are making more money right now.”
Through the paycheck protection program, business owners are encouraged to hire employees back on to the pay roll.
President of the New York State Restaurant Association, Melissa Fleischut, said this is a concern many restaurant owners have.
“As part of the CARES Act that the congress passed, there is an increased amount of money through unemployment right now. That is for a limited time, so I don’t think it will be very long term as far as the industry is concerned,” Fleischut explained.
She said at this point, it is unclear if restaurants will fully reopen first or if unemployment funds will be reduced sooner.
A majority of restaurant employees are currently not working.
“According to the NYS Department of Labor numbers, in February we employed 660,000 employees across the state in the restaurant industry. So that would be roughly 527,000 employees that have had to be furloughed or laid off,” said Fleischut.
But even with less staff, otis and Oliver’s is trying to make the best out of the situation, averaging between 60 and 75 take out meal orders a day.
“Well, the sales are definitely down,” Wade stated. “It’s just like I said, I have a few staff that stayed on not collecting unemployment and we are getting through.”