Chicago-based Brown Bag Seafood Co., which has seven locations and around 75 hourly team members, introduced a policy that will support team members who lose hours due to the slowdown. The company committed to paying its employees 70 percent of their “lost” hours, which include both time that employees spend away from work to care for themselves or family members as well as any reduced time that results from a business slowdown.
Brown Bag introduced the policy after Illinois governor J.B. Pritzker ordered all of the state’s bars and restaurants to close (with the exception of delivery, curbside, and carryout service).
“We agree with and respect the governor’s leadership in his decision to shut down dining in at restaurants, but the lack of any concrete details of how the government plans to support all of the affected workers in our industry is disappointing,” said Brown Bag founder and CEO Donna Lee in a statement. “In the meantime, we have crew members that need and deserve answers for how their livelihood is going to be maintained, and we felt we needed to step up and swiftly act.”
Lee added that many employees want to continue working through this season, and as long as they’re healthy, she said, “we want to afford them that ability as much as possible.”
Brown Bag’s two food-hall locations were closed following the governor’s orders, which slashed hours for a dozen workers. Co-owner Zach Flanzman said in a statement that he expects revenue to be down more than 50 percent in the shutdown period.
According to data from the National Restaurant Association, there were more than 15 million people employed by the restaurant industry in 2019. Nearly 14 million of those positions were related to food preparation and service.