I have a family member who is a young chef. He has actually worked at a few of the restaurants mentioned on this board. They all work sick and it is indeed because most places do not offer sick pay. In fact there is a subtle pressure (or subtle threat) to show up. The awesomeness we experience in these cool restaurants does not always reflect what is going on behind the scenes. The restaurant business in L.A. is super competitive. I actually call it war. The profit margin can be shockingly low. So, places are frequently under-staffed and under pressure. Or in some cases these talented chef/owners don't know how to properly run a restaurant or are at odds with their investors. Management often takes it out on employees.
I would hope well run, well established places like the Mozza Complex provide benefits, but you can't be too sure. Some give the employees the benefit of a group policy, but deduct it from their pay check. Places like Jon & Vinny's are charging that confusing surcharge. They are trying to find a way to better take care of their employees.
Some establishments do offer full benefits, but mostly these are corporate type places: Hotels, clubs (Soho House), studio commissaries, hospitals, etc. But young ambitious chefs typically get bored making the kind of food these places serve. Some with a lot of drive work at these places for the steady pay check, regular hours and benefits, then moonlight at the hipper spots.
If you ask me, it's slightly masochistic to want to work in or own a restaurant. It's why as much as I'm obsessed with food (I have cookbooks on my nightstand) and love cooking, I never wanted to work in a kitchen. Waitressing was enough of an eye opener.
Obviously I have a lot to say on this subject. It's something I was hoping would come up. I thought it would be a good education for some in the community.
Happy eating and keep tipping!