Health and Wellbeing in Alberta (French version available)
Suppose that you needed expensive dental work or medication. Your family might have health benefits or insurance to cover these costs. Restaurant workers have normally not received these types of benefits, but now some employers are trying to change that. If the idea becomes common, it could help to make many people’s lives better.
Restaurant employees, also known as food service workers, often have low wages with few benefits like sick pay or dental care. A survey of 5414 restaurants in Alberta showed that forty-nine percent of full-time staff and sixty-five percent of higher-level workers receive benefits. Health and dental benefits for restaurant workers are rare in Canada because of the high costs in providing them.
Balancing prices and costs in restaurants can be difficult. Restaurant owners have often reduced their costs by paying their staff minimum wage with few extra benefits. Good tips from diners can help, but not enough to make up for the low wages. During the pandemic, the many restaurant closures and illness among workers showed the need for health benefits.
Health benefits are designed to help workers financially when they get sick or need dental care so that they can take time to recover or go to appointments. During the pandemic, many people could have avoided spreading COVID-19 by staying at home when they were sick, but they had no way of paying for food and other necessities without their wages. In restaurants and other workplaces, the risks of infecting other people are high, and being able to stay home but still get some money is important.
During the pandemic, many workers resigned from their jobs, or they lost their jobs when businesses had to close. Once businesses were able to open again, they needed employees, but the previous employees did not always want to come back, or they had moved on to other activities.
Because of the factors like these, many employers are still looking for employees. To attract good workers, employers have had to offer benefits, especially sick pay and other health-related benefits. That way, workers could miss work if they felt ill without losing their wages for the time they were away. Normally, employers and employees pay a small amount of money every month that gets put into benefits. Then when the worker needs the money, it is available.
Dental benefits are also important, and many employers are beginning to offer that to workers. Some companies are also raising wages, helping employees with education costs, and even offering counselling for employees and their families who are suffering from emotional or mental health issues. Many employers are also offering higher wages to attract employees.
In places like Montreal and Toronto, employers are using similar ideas to draw in good workers and bring restaurant diners back. They realize the importance of being healthy and having enough money for what they need. The idea might soon become common to many employers. These changes could help in the very competitive world of restaurants while also making life easier for people who work at low-paid jobs.
Alsharif, Ghada. “’Workers Have Choice’: Restaurants Offering Health Benefits Find It a Lot Easier to Hire Staff.’” https://www.thestar.com/business/2022/11/02/restaurants-offering-health-dental-benefits-in-bid-to-attract-workers-amid-labour-shortage.html.
Duhatschek, Paula. “For Many Restaurant Workers, Health Benefits Are Rare. Amid an ‘Existential’ Labour Shortage, That’s Changing.” https://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/calgary/restaurant-industry-health-benefits-1.6630367.
Hamilton, Janella. “Worker Shortage Leaves B.C.’s Restaurant Industry Hungry for Employees.” https://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/british-columbia/worker-shortage-leaves-b-c-s-restaurant-industry-hungry-for-employees-1.6458931.
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