Anyone who's ever worked in a restaurant (or watched an episode of The Bear) knows that food service can be a physically demanding and highly stressful job. But at the same time, the pay is often not so great, and as of 2021, only 32% of restaurant workers in the US had access to employee health coverage.
Well, recently, 33-year-old Ashley Nichole (@ashnichole_xo) went out for dinner in Los Angeles and noticed an unusual charge on her bill: a 5% fee for "employee health." She'd never run into something like this before, so she took to TikTok to talk about it.
"The weirdest thing just happened to me," she says, and explains that she and a friend went out to eat. "We enjoy our meal, we get the check, we pay for our check, and as we're signing the tip and stuff, we noticed something. Here's the receipt, and if you notice down here towards the bottom, there is a $4.75 charge for employee health. Do you see that? A 5% charge for employee health."
Ashley says she was confused by the charge, so she asked the host to explain it. "And she goes, 'Oh, that's our healthcare.' And my reaction was, 'Your health, your healthcare?' And she goes, 'Yes, our healthcare.'"
Finally, Ashley says, "I've never heard of that before, ever. And I had to find out: Is that normal and I've been living under a rock, or is this weird?"
Her video racked up more than 13,000 comments, and people were pretty divided about the idea of paying an extra fee to cover restaurant workers' healthcare.
On the one hand, many commenters felt that it should be the business owner's responsibility to pay for this coverage for their employees. So to them, asking customers to pay this fee seems like an overstep.
And others said they would ask to have the fee taken off their bill.
People also wondered about the potential tax implications of paying for their waitstaff's health insurance.
And sadly, as rising prices have made everything more expensive, others pointed out that they're having a tough-enough time paying their own bills.
But on the other hand, people pointed out that at least this healthcare fee is more transparent than just raising menu prices across the board, which can be a real turn-off.
Some people who've also seen these kinds of fees in the wild shared that restaurants will remove the fee from the bill if you don't want to pay it.
And people shared how they've seen these fees being put to use on the employees' side.
Some people, especially fellow service industry folks, said they don't mind paying a fee like this at all if it means people can get the care they need.
And some folks pointed out that maaaybe the American healthcare system could be improved somewhat.
Ashley told BuzzFeed what went through her head when she first noticed the charge: "Honestly, I thought it was a mistake. This was my first time ever seeing anything like this. Once I asked the hostess to clarify what the charge was, I was simply confused why I was the one paying for the healthcare of my server."
And she says that based on the comments on her TikTok, this doesn't seem to be very common. "The overwhelming response was that most people hadn't seen anything like it."
So now I'm curious: Have you ever seen a health charge like this on your bill at a restaurant, and how do you feel about paying it? Or, if you work in a restaurant, have you ever been part of a healthcare plan like this one, and how did it go? Let's talk about it in the comments!