employee benefits toronto

Toronto restaurant adding meal surcharge to pay employee benefits

Emma's Country Kitchen is one of the best brunch spots in Toronto, but along with serving up a decadent morning menu, it'll also start offering its full time employees benefits.

"We’ve been thinking about giving our employees benefits for a long time. As you know, in our industry it’s not very common," says Emma's Country Kitchen co-owner Heather Mee.

"However, it’s extremely hard on your body working in a restaurant. And your mind, for that matter. It’s a stressful job." She doesn't want her staff to have to worry about paying for essentials, such as a dental appointments or orthotics.

Instead of upping its prices, the team at Emma's decided to add a three percent surcharge on all bills in order to cover the cost of the new benefits plan, but Mee notes that anyone can opt out of paying it.

On average, Mee says the surcharge will be about 43 cents per bill. Emma's Country Kitchen will start rolling it out next week.

It seems like more and more restaurants are starting to think about how to treat their employees fairly. Some, for instance, have done away with tipping in favour of paying their staff a living wage, while others have adjusted their hours to give cooks, servers and bartenders time to sleep.

This conversation, of course, is just getting started for those in the industry.

Lead photo by

Jesse Milns


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