House bill would pay workers $1,200 to go back to work

Rep. Brad Wenstrup: 'I wish people would take a deep breath and recognize what we have'
Posted at 11:39 PM, May 06, 2021
and last updated 2021-05-07 12:54:01-04

NORWOOD, Ohio — A staffing shortage means Joseph Beth's Brontë Bistro is now closed on Mondays and Tuesdays. Management needs to hire people so badly, they're offering a $1,000 signing bonus to new employees who stay at least 90 days.

A bill before the U.S. House of Representatives could provide even more incentive.

"We've been fortunate that our business has been pretty consistent," said Mandy Carroll, bar manager at Brontë Bistro. "The business has continued to increase."

But staffing has not.

"Unfortunately, a lot of people have left the industry due to the pandemic. A lot of folks are still very leery about their personal safety," Carroll said.

A March survey by the Federation of Independent Businesses found 42% of employers had job openings that could not be filled.

"This isn't just exclusive to Brontë Bistro. This is next door; this is across the street. This is downtown."

That's where the new legislation could come into play.

Rep. Brad Wenstrup said he visited Brontë Bistro and saw the need firsthand.

He's backing a bill -- the Reopening America By Supporting Workers and Businesses Act -- that would reinstate job search requirements as well as limited back-to-work bonuses for employees, including a one-time payment of $1,200 to return to work full-time by July 1 and $600 to those working between 20 and 30 hours per week.

Wenstrup said in part in a statement, "I've cosponsored legislation that proposes a few ideas to help get our economy moving again. First, it reinstates job search requirements to help connect potential workers with jobs quicker. It also provides for limited back-to-work bonuses to help employers to bring workers back immediately and not wait for their increased unemployment benefits to run out. I’m continuing to talk to workers and small business owners across the district to find solutions to this problem."

Meanwhile, Carroll is looking ahead to this weekend.

"It's urgent. We're fully booked for Mother's Day, so it's an all-hands-on-deck."