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Monika Zuluaga

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Monika@rihospitality.org

Dale's Corner

This blog is written by Dale J. Venturini, President/CEO of RI Hospitality Association (RIHA) and RI Hospitality Education Foundation (RIHEF). Its purpose is to engage RIHA members with current issues and trends.

In Rhode Island and across the nation, we’ve seen a host of legislation introduced by out-of-state special interest groups that have squarely targeted the hospitality industry. From eliminating the federal tipped wage, to raising minimum wage to $15 per hour, to scheduling mandates and paid sick leave – virtually every facet of our business model is being unfairly attacked. Special interests are trying fix what is not broken.

I’m not sure why folks who do not work in our industry feel compelled to tell business owners, legislators and millions of employees across the country how our industry should run. But, I do know that special interests have such a keen eye on the hospitality industry and such a determination to destroy how we do business, because there is money to be made – for their organizations, not for the people they claim to represent.

One of the most onerous pieces of legislation is the paid sick leave bill. In Rhode Island, H-5413/S-290 would impose on Rhode Island businesses the most far reaching, overly broad and extreme paid leave legislation in the country.

Some of the more problematic aspects of the bill include:

  • Businesses, regardless of size, have to provide employees with up to seven days of paid leave for sick and safe time (CT, MA and VT all provide five days).
  • No notice requirements - employees only have to make a "good faith effort" to notify employers that they will be utilizing their paid leave. Massachusetts has this exact same language and it has led to a "no call, no show, no problem" environment in Massachusetts businesses.
  • It would prohibit the long-standing industry standard of shift swapping if an employee cannot work a scheduled shift. Massachusetts, Connecticut and Vermont all allow shift swapping as an alternative to paid leave.
  • It directly conflicts with the RI Food Code, which requires employers and employees discuss certain medical symptoms to prevent infectious disease.
  • The leave could be used for the employee, the employee's family or anyone with whom the employee had a "family-like affinity." This requires the employer to make a determination about employee's personal relationships.

If businesses are required to provide paid leave, something else has to give - fewer benefits, less flexibility and more regimented hours. A hallmark of the restaurant industry is in its flexibility with a shift-based system. This is a key reason that so many people seek opportunities in restaurants. Students, parents, and retirees can choose hours that work for their schedules. And, when something arises, they have the flexibility to switch shifts without penalization or written notice.

A March 8, 2017 Providence Journal editorial, “Don’t lose focus on jobs,” argued that paid sick leave is another business burden in a state known for its difficulty in conducting business. The editorial cited an annual report from the Washington-based Tax Foundation that ranked Rhode Island 44th for its business tax climate. CNBC last year ranked Rhode Island 50th of 50 states for its business climate.

The piece went on to state, “bills before the House and Senate take the approach that benefits for employees are the only thing that matters. They fail to factor in whether businesses can endure an ever-growing load of regulatory burdens.

“A key point seems lost on too many legislators: You can’t have employees, never mind guaranteed employee benefits, without employers turning a big enough profit to make their effort worthwhile.

“The bills would require employers to provide paid sick time whenever an employee makes the request. Such requests would not be limited to illness. They could also cover employee leave to care for sick family members or attend to other personal matters. Indeed, it is not entirely clear what other opportunities for paid leave would apply under the bills.

Some states that have considered such measures have refrained from hammering small businesses, which are the incubators of jobs and economic vitality.”

Our membership has and will continue to testify strongly against all pieces of legislation that unfairly target us. We have a duty and obligation to protect the thousands of small business owners in our industry as well as our 70,000 employees. To learn how you can help keep our industry strong, please visit: www.rihospitality.org.


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List of Articles
No. Subject Author Date
40 The Best and Brightest Shine Brightly at RIHA’s Stars of the Industry Event file Monika Jan 15, 2019
Well, we did it again…Rhode Island’s amazing hospitality industry converged on Twin River Casino Hotel to celebrate our best and brightest of 2018. This annual event is truly the highlight of my year, and even though it takes an enormous amo...  
39 ‘Tis the Season of Giving Monika Sep 20, 2018
Hope everyone had a wonderful summer filled with rest, relaxation and rejuvenation and is now raring to go! We are fully in the season of giving – no, not the holidays – but, an even more stressful time of the year, the political season. Now...  
38 That’s a Legislative Wrap! file Monika Aug 16, 2018
After a marathon session of debates and a flurry of votes, Rhode Island’s General Assembly has adjourned for the summer. With hundreds of bills in the mix, the RI Hospitality Association (RIHA) spent countless hours carefully monitoring each...  
37 Summer in New England: Be a Tourist in Your Own Backyard file Monika Jul 05, 2018
When many of us think about summer vacations, we think about jumping on a plane and traveling to a far-off destination. However, for those of us who are fortunate enough to live in New England, there’s no need to venture too far to enjoy som...  
36 Our Next Generation of Culinary Stars: Cooking and Planning Their Hearts Out file Monika Jun 11, 2018
Recently, Providence, RI hosted the National ProStart® Invitational (NPSI), the country’s premier secondary-school competition focused on restaurant management and culinary arts. We had some wonderful judges visit from all over the nation as...  
35 Swimming Down “STREAM” Monika May 15, 2018
Education is truly the foundation of success no matter what career path you choose. Some learning is done in traditional classrooms, and more practical experience is gained in the thick of it in a restaurant or hotel kitchen, lodging establi...  
34 The #MeToo Movement is More than a Hashtag file Monika Mar 02, 2018
While the #MeToo movement has become synonymous with the entertainment industry, its reach is far deeper than the bright lights and golden statues of Hollywood. From politics, to business, to manufacturing, to hospitality, the potential for ...  
33 “We are made of star-stuff. Our bodies are made of star-stuff. There are pieces of star within us all.” file Monika Jan 02, 2018
“We are made of star-stuff. Our bodies are made of star-stuff. There are pieces of star within us all.” – Carl Sagan There is no greater honor for me each year then to be part of our industry’s largest celebration! Each November, I look forw...  
32 Paid Sick Leave Passes RI Legislature file Monika Oct 10, 2017
In September, both the Rhode Island House and Senate passed legislation that will require companies to give employees paid sick leave. Although the RI Hospitality Association (RIHA) is generally opposed to mandates that impact the employer-e...  
31 When did ‘Entry Level’ become Negative? file Monika Sep 19, 2017
If there is one theme that has dominated the political landscape in Rhode Island for the last decade, it is without a doubt jobs and the economy. Though we have seen a rise in the local economy since the recession, talk of job creation still...  
30 Taking the High Road – the Road Less Traveled file Monika Jul 24, 2017
Normal 0 false false false EN-US KO AR-SA Dale J. Venturini President/CEO, RI Hospitality Association It is increasingly difficult to take the high road in today’s political climate. And, so few are doing it, but it is critically important....  
» Paid Sick Leave – it’s Nothing to Sneeze at RIHA May 08, 2017
In Rhode Island and across the nation, we’ve seen a host of legislation introduced by out-of-state special interest groups that have squarely targeted the hospitality industry. From eliminating the federal tipped wage, to raising minimum wag...  
28 Buying Local for the Holidays Monika Nov 15, 2016
The holiday season is fast approaching…from a retail perspective, it seems to come earlier and earlier each year. While I was shopping for Halloween candy this year, I was sidestepping Christmas trees, holiday decorations and specialty choco...  
27 The Cost of ‘Chip’ Cards and Protecting Against Fraud Monika Oct 04, 2016
By Dale Venturini, President and CEO, R.I Hospitality Association  Many of us currently have an EMV credit or debit card – also known as a ‘chip’ card. These safer versions of the traditional magnetic-strip cards were designed to protect co...  
26 Gluten is Not Free in Restaurants file Monika Sep 01, 2016
Dale J. Venturini President/CEO, RI Hospitality Association We all know people who struggle with food allergies. From peanut butter, to shellfish, to strawberries, to dairy, the idea of dining out when one has a food allergy can be an alarmi...  
25 Managing a Better Future file Monika Jun 30, 2016
The hospitality industry is a continuously growing segment of the U.S. economic picture. This year alone, the restaurant industry is expected to realize $783 billion in sales and employ 14.4 million in good-paying jobs, according to the Nati...  
24 Partnerships – They’re Not Always the Obvious Choice file Monika Jun 06, 2016
Dale J. Venturini President/CEO, RI Hospitality Association I’ve written extensively about the need to collaborate with organizations that share the same business interests. Whether a business partner’s mission is within your organization’s ...  
23 How Important is a Proactive Crisis Plan? Your Business Could Depend on it. Monika May 05, 2016
Dale J. Venturini President/CEO, RI Hospitality Association   With the spate of negative media headlines surrounding restaurants that have experienced foodborne or human-contact illness, it is critically important that every eating establis...  
22 Where Have the Teens Gone? file Monika Apr 04, 2016
Dale J. Venturini President/CEO, RI Hospitality Association It used to be that almost every teenager had a job in the hospitality industry. With flexible hours and class-friendly scheduling, our industry was the perfect landing spot for high...  
21 The Real Cost of Foodborne Illness file Monika Feb 02, 2016
Dale J. Venturini President/CEO, RI Hospitality Association Our food supply system, while infinitely safer and better regulated than most other parts of the world, still has its challenges. We’ve all seen the headlines and recalls from E. co...