Labor LawsStaffStaff Education

3 Tips to Navigating the Ever-Changing Landscape of Wage and Labor Laws

Restaurant managers and owners face more unique challenges than most other businesses.

Between high turnover rates, tight labor markets, and slim margins, restaurateurs of all sizes have their work cut out for them. In addition to these challenges, state and local wage and labor laws present costly risks that many managers find hard to avoid.

Not complying with wage and labor laws is a costly mistake for any restaurant to make. In 2018, The Department of Labor (DOL) increased many of the oft-violated federal labor laws. Those include wage and overtime pay, willful violations of Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA) protections, and failure to provide a Summary of Benefits and Coverage to employees. Some of these violations are accompanied with one-time fines, others come with daily penalties until the problem is remedied. This led to restaurants forking over nearly $42 million in fines.

On top of that, lawyers are increasingly marketing their services to encompass this diverse legal field because there is little precedent to guide dispute settlements. Employers who do not have sufficient processes or appropriate records of compensation face an uphill battle when challenged to prove they are complying with labor laws.

To help owners and managers avoid these costly mistakes, here are three tips to keep a business of any size legally compliant with wage and labor laws.

  1. Make Education a Priority for Managers

Managing the day-to-day operations of a restaurant makes it easy to lose sight of the bigger picture. But, if a business’ manager is not apprised of the changing landscape of local wage and labor laws, ensuring compliance is a tough argument to make.

Make sure your managers have all of the educational resources they need to keep your business legally compliant. There are a host of classes and training seminars offered by lawyers and Human Resources companies that will help your managers understand the laws they are expected to follow. Even something as simple as registering a membership account with the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) can go a long way toward compliance.

  1. Utilize Technology

Some states like Oregon require managers to make employee schedules at least two weeks in advance. If managers fail to do so, or the schedule changes employees are not notified, employees may be entitled to extra compensation.

There are a number of restaurant scheduling software companies who offer intelligent business solutions for this very issue. Some of the best options available on the market are included in this list. Be sure to dive deep into all the facets of the software before purchasing.

  1. Educate Your Employees About Their Rights

Once you’ve crafted your wage and labor policies, and purchased a software to help automate compliance, it’s time to communicate your policies to your employees.

You can do it at your next staff meeting; before the next couple shifts; at a company outing. Whenever you decide to do it, make sure you are available to answer any questions your employees might have. Know the policy inside and out, even if you can’t explain the legal jargon. This gives you an opportunity to have a discussion about the policy with your employees in an open environment.


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