San Francisco wants to end a much-touted perk that tech company employees have long been accustomed to enjoying: a free lunch.
Many tech companies started their own in-house cafeterias to feed their employees. When many of the tech companies were located in far-flung suburbia, that was a logical necessity. Now that many of the tech companies are moving into cities, however, there’s less of a necessity.
There is also a lot of pushback from the cities they’re moving into since many of the cities counted on the influx of tech employees to help boost the local economy and small businesses with their purchases. As a result, cities like San Francisco are thinking of regulating in-house cafeterias for new companies that want to take up residence in urban locations.
Not everyone thinks that the ban is a great idea, however. While free food isn’t an employee’s right, it is a significant job perk that can differentiate one employer from another in a highly-competitive industry. The ban could also damage jobs in the food service industry that currently provides the meals in the corporate cafeterias. On the other hand, proponents feel that it’s time for the economic playing field to be leveled just a bit — and that legislation may be necessary to make that happen.
The odds are good that the tech industry employees who are affected by the cafeteria ban won’t be happy about the ending of their free lunches — but it’s important to understand the difference between the benefits that employees have as a right and those that are merely granted to them as part of an attractive employment package.
Things like unemployment coverage, workers’ compensation and family medical leave are an employee’s right — while perks like lunches, gym memberships and free transportation are not.