The Strategist

California authorities to ban free office food

07/30/2018 - 15:30

IT corporations, including Facebook, Google, Twitter, LinkedIn, Uber, give their employees natural bonuses and benefits, Including provide free lunches, in addition to high salaries. The authorities of California believe that this harms the economy of the region.

Last week, several members of the San Francisco Board of Supervisors introduced a bill that would prohibit corporations from creating their own cafeterias and canteens in the offices. Not only free food hinders development of restaurants and cafes, but also reduces the circle of people's communication, officials said.

"We are talking about a cultural shift. We do not want their employees to come to work on a bicycle or a car, stay there all day and then go home. It's about pulling people out of the office, interacting with the local community and adding dynamism to it," says one of the authors of the bill, Ahsha Safai.

Initially, corporations opened their own cafeterias, usually with free meals, because their offices were located in the suburbs. Among other reasons for this are desire to increase attractiveness of the labor market, as well as push up productivity of employees who shouldn’t be distracted from work. Now many technological corporations hire famous chefs in their cafeteria and try to make the menu as diverse as possible.

"It's great that we have had a tremendous economic boom that has created many jobs in San Francisco in recent years, but many of these new workers are already fully provided with food, so it is difficult to earn at lunch and find employees restaurants... If people are brought to work by bus, they go into the office and do not leave it, the effect for the city is lost, "says Gwyneth Borden, head of the Golden Gate Restaurant Association.

Mrs. Borden supports the bill, noting that it does not have retroactive effect and only prohibits creation of own cafeterias in new offices. In addition, corporations will be able to provide free meals to their employees, giving them vouchers for lunch in city restaurants.

The city of Mountain View (CA), which houses offices of several large corporations (Google, Microsoft, etc.), has long been struggling with free food. Back in 2014, the municipality and Facebook signed an agreement, according to which the company cannot cover the food of employees in cafeterias in the office by more than 50%. Facebook can fully compensate for the cost of food for employees, but only if they eat in city restaurants open to everyone.

According to John McAlister, a member of the Mountain View Council, this decision is a response to complaints from local restaurants.

As the former mayor of the city, Michael Kasperzak, who worked on the new rules, put it "in fact, this is rather to make sure that we will not have an office space of 400 thousand square feet (37 thousand square meters) filled with people who never leave the building." "If we have all these restaurants, we want them to develop successfully. If the employer pays for it then everything is fine," he said.