Some restaurant owners struggling to get employees on unemployment to return
Some Long Island restaurants are struggling to get employees back to work, and they feel it's because of unemployment pay.
The issue revolves around the $600 bonus the federal government is including in the unemployment checks to people who lost their jobs. New York's unemployment is considered generous compared to many other states, and people on unemployment are earning more than $1,000 a week.
Because of that aid, restaurant owners say many of their servers and cooks are not coming back. At one Mattituck restaurant, they're down about a half-dozen workers.
"No one's come right out and saying they're going to stay at home and not work because they're lazy. What they're saying is they're afraid of COVID. Meanwhile they're still going to the supermarket and they're hanging out at the beach," says Chris Richards, of CJ's American Grill.
With the all-important Fourth of July weekend coming up, owners are hoping for big weekends, and more employees to support that.
But at Port Waterfront Bar and Grill, they've had to shorten their hours.
"So instead of opening at 11, we open at noon. Instead of closing at 11, we close at 9 and then we close one day a week so everybody can have a day off," says Keith Bavaro.
Rep. Pete King says he's heard plenty of examples of people's former workplace not paying enough to come back to work, whether it be in restaurants, landscaping or other businesses.
"This is just an unintended consequence of trying to do the right thing," says King.
The bonus expires at the end of July, and Congress could extend it. King says both parties are trying to figure out a way to address the issue of some finding it more valuable to stay out of work.