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News & Press: Laws & Regulations

Legislative Updates from NYC for June and July

Thursday, July 31, 2014  
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In New York City, our team constantly advocates on behalf of the hospitality industry at City Hall, before the City Council, and with numerous City agencies.  Here is our monthly recap of what’s going on in the New York City legislative scene for the months of June and July.

Earned Sick Time Act
It’s time. July 30 marks the start date for employees to begin using their paid sick leave time under the Earned Sick Time Act. To help educate restaurants, we worked with the Department of Consumer Affairs to promote the Mayor’s “Day of Action.” The law is now in effect and while you will have some leeway from the DCA on compliance, restaurants can expect enforcement to start later this year so make sure you are in compliance now. Here are the latest resources for restaurants on to understand and comply with Paid Sick Leave:
New York City Restaurant Guide: Earned Sick Time Act >>
New York City Member Alert: Paid Sick Leave Flyer Download (Members Only) >> 
10 Tips for Restaurant Employers and the Notice of Employee Rights on NYC Paid Sick Leave Law >>
3 Ways Restaurant Employers Record Giving Notice of Employee Rights of Paid Sick Leave Law >>

Department of Health and Mental Hygiene (DOHMH): Consultive Inspections and a New Task Force
In June, many of the Association’s NYC Chapter Board members and NYS Restaurant Association Staff met with senior DOHMH staff to discuss the state of the industry, enforcement, and upcoming DOHMH initiatives. In addition to raising concerns about consistency of inspections, we discussed ways to improve agency and restaurant interaction. To that end, the DOHMH is rolling out its consultive inspection program where DOHMH inspectors come to your establishment and perform an ungraded inspection. What better way to be prepared than to have the DOHMH give you advice? Association members are taking advantage of the program and we’ll continue to report on its effectiveness.

Members from the NYC Chapter Board meeting with the NYC Department of Health and Mental Hygiene to discuss new legislation and regulations regarding fine reduction, ombuds office and industry task force. View more photos on Facebook >>

The new Food Industry Task Force continues to be set up and this should be a great vehicle for the Association to continue to support the industry by conveying its concerns to the DOHMH in a productive manner. We worked directly with the DOHMH to form the Task Force and gather top industry professionals and experts from nutritionists to restaurateurs to participate.

Smaller Fines…Maybe
Since 2011, the Association has consistently raised the flag about high fines for restaurants. Our concerns resulted in oversight hearings in March 2012 and our consistent message for years is paying dividends. In July, the Mayor tasked multiple agencies with the goal of reducing fines and streamlined rules. Called “Small Business First,” the program hopes to solicit feedback on how to accomplish these goals. Combined with DCA Commissioner Menin’s announcement of reduced fines and violations at DCA (which won’t impact the restaurant industry as much as other industries), these initiatives bode well but implementation will be key.

The Need for Interpretation 
Along with the National Restaurant Association, the NYS Restaurant Association submitted a request for a legal opinion to the DCA about the practice of charging service charges or automatic gratuities on customer bills. The DCA’s rules are open to interpretation on this as well as insurance requirements for sidewalk cafes. So we’ve asked the DCA to give the industry binding instruction via legal interpretations. We’ll share that guidance as soon as we get it.  

Meetings with Key Players 
The Association, led by its NYC Board members, have continued their meetings with key administration personnel to discuss the need to reduce fines, improve business support, and provide a better understanding of the importance of the hospitality industry to the welfare of NYC. Next up, meetings with the SBS Commissioner and key council leaders.  All in an effort to continue supporting the industry as this Association has done effectively for years.

Organic Separation is Coming… 
As we have discussed, the organic separation bill passed last year and can take effect as early as July 2015. The Association can assist you through the Green Hospitality Initiative and we are working on best practices guides to assist with your implementation of this law. We continue to monitor whether the law should be delayed based on a lack of commercial composting capacity but the City will likely be pushing for this law to be in place as soon as possible.
Farm to Table and Local Sourcing
Don’t forget about your local wines! The Association remains dedicated to assisting the growth of the Governor’s Taste NY and Pride of New York initiatives and the upcoming Governor’s Cup will be another way that the Association and its members get access to such prominent events that support the industry.

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