There's A Debate Raging On TikTok Over The "Employee Health" Charge This Woman Noticed On Her Restaurant Bill

    "I've never heard of that before, ever. And I had to find out: Is that normal and I've been living under a rock, or is this weird?"

    Anyone who's ever worked in a restaurant (or watched an episode of The Bear) knows that food service can be a physically demanding and highly stressful job. But at the same time, the pay is often not so great, and as of 2021, only 32% of restaurant workers in the US had access to employee health coverage.

    Restaurant with a sign that says hiring cook and server

    Well, recently, 33-year-old Ashley Nichole (@ashnichole_xo) went out for dinner in Los Angeles and noticed an unusual charge on her bill: a 5% fee for "employee health." She'd never run into something like this before, so she took to TikTok to talk about it.

    Ashley looking a little confused

    "The weirdest thing just happened to me," she says, and explains that she and a friend went out to eat. "We enjoy our meal, we get the check, we pay for our check, and as we're signing the tip and stuff, we noticed something. Here's the receipt, and if you notice down here towards the bottom, there is a $4.75 charge for employee health. Do you see that? A 5% charge for employee health."

    Ashley pointing to the 5% charge on her bill

    Ashley says she was confused by the charge, so she asked the host to explain it. "And she goes, 'Oh, that's our healthcare.' And my reaction was, 'Your health, your healthcare?' And she goes, 'Yes, our healthcare.'"

    Ashley looking very confused

    Finally, Ashley says, "I've never heard of that before, ever. And I had to find out: Is that normal and I've been living under a rock, or is this weird?"

    Her video racked up more than 13,000 comments, and people were pretty divided about the idea of paying an extra fee to cover restaurant workers' healthcare.

    On the one hand, many commenters felt that it should be the business owner's responsibility to pay for this coverage for their employees. So to them, asking customers to pay this fee seems like an overstep.

    Comment: Not normal, shouldn't the business be paying for health care not the customer?

    And others said they would ask to have the fee taken off their bill.

    I would refuse to pay it and have it removed from the check

    People also wondered about the potential tax implications of paying for their waitstaff's health insurance.

    If I'm paying for someone's health, can I claim them as a dependent on my taxes?

    And sadly, as rising prices have made everything more expensive, others pointed out that they're having a tough-enough time paying their own bills.

    That would come off the tip; can barely afford health care for myself, not paying for some strangers

    But on the other hand, people pointed out that at least this healthcare fee is more transparent than just raising menu prices across the board, which can be a real turn-off.

    It's either like this or they raise their prices on all the food to get the same $5; in San Francisco it's on every check but the menu gives you notice

    Some people who've also seen these kinds of fees in the wild shared that restaurants will remove the fee from the bill if you don't want to pay it.

    They will remove it if you ask; I'm in LA — I've seen it

    And people shared how they've seen these fees being put to use on the employees' side.

    Some small businesses in Atlanta do this; it allows their workers to get healthcare for themselves and their family and sick leave

    Some people, especially fellow service industry folks, said they don't mind paying a fee like this at all if it means people can get the care they need.

    I work in the service industry, we don't get health care; I'd happily pay extra to help those who need it

    And some folks pointed out that maaaybe the American healthcare system could be improved somewhat.

    Great story that supports our desperate need for nationalized healthcare

    Ashley told BuzzFeed what went through her head when she first noticed the charge: "Honestly, I thought it was a mistake. This was my first time ever seeing anything like this. Once I asked the hostess to clarify what the charge was, I was simply confused why I was the one paying for the healthcare of my server."

    Server carrying a tray of food and drinks

    And she says that based on the comments on her TikTok, this doesn't seem to be very common. "The overwhelming response was that most people hadn't seen anything like it."

    Cooks in a restaurant kitchen

    So now I'm curious: Have you ever seen a health charge like this on your bill at a restaurant, and how do you feel about paying it? Or, if you work in a restaurant, have you ever been part of a healthcare plan like this one, and how did it go? Let's talk about it in the comments!