No More Free Food for Chinese Restaurant Workers

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NEW YORK— Chinese restaurants in New York are formalizing their hiring and paying practices after a crackdown by immigration authorities, the IRS and the Labor Department in the past year, the World Journal reports. Chinese restaurant owners are now recruiting workers with legal papers through employment agencies, and double checking workers' identities and making copies of documents before hiring them. In the past, Chinese restaurants often hired workers through a simple verbal agreement about salary and vacation time.

Mr. Lin, the owner of Dynasty Buffet on Long Island, said immigration authorities have targeted Chinese restaurants in the past year. Some restaurant owners were indicted on charges of employing, transporting and hiding undocumented immigrants. Chinese restaurants, he said, are now more aware of whom they are hiring. But formalizing the hiring process does not make it any easier, Lin added. He said has been looking for a legal dishwasher for a few weeks through a Chinatown's employment agency, and has not yet come across any suitable workers.

The World Journal reports that many restaurant owners on the east coast no longer provide free meals, accommodation or transportation to their workers as they did in the past. Instead, they are charging their workers a small amount for meals, rent and transportation. The owners said they would increase their workers' salaries to compensate for the charges.