The complicated landscape of regulatory compliance has always been a challenge for restaurant owners and operators.
But with the dramatic increase in complexity over the last five years, the operators of multi-unit restaurants need to make sure that they’re following the rules now more than ever. From new local, state and national labor laws and food safety regulations to teenage employment mandates, it is increasingly vital that above store leaders aren’t merely confident that their stores are in compliance — they need to be sure.
The United States Department of Labor’s Wage and Hour Division collected nearly $43 million in back wages for more than 43,000 employees during Fiscal Year, up 7% from $39.8 million the previous year.
Non-compliance with any one or more of the full range of labor laws can result in significant damage to restaurant operations, including expensive violation penalties, damaged reputations, and, in the most extreme cases, lawsuits. And those risks only compound the more locations a brand owns.
So, how can above store leaders be sure that their locations are compliant? They can start by assessing the gaps in their business with these five questions.
1. Are Managers Alerted When They’re at Risk for Non-Compliance?
Due to the evolving nature of compliance regulations and the number of tasks a restaurant manager has to complete every single shift, it can be easy to miss details and commit violations. Unless a manager is consulting a school calendar when they make schedules, they could be violating minor labor laws.
What You Need
Give your managers a system that generates real-time alerts warning them about missed employee meals or breaks or scheduling youth for shifts that are out of compliance. With this functionality, your owners, operators and payroll teams will spend less time correcting innocent errors or dealing with noncompliance penalties.
2. Are You Tracking Staff Certifications for Food Handling and Alcohol Service?
Look, it’s easy for a manager to get caught up in the day-to-day of their job. Before you know it your best bartender is no longer certified. A sticky note reminder or a spreadsheet to log staff certifications doesn’t really get the job done. It might seem like an easy fix, but it can fall off a manager’s plate all too easily.
We configure our smartphones with alerts and alarms for all kinds of things. Why not certifications? Receiving reminders for certification renewals shouldn’t be a manual process to manage. It should be simple to set up and intelligent enough to prevent managers from scheduling people whose certifications are expired.
What You Need
To stay in compliance with food and alcohol service certifications, you need to track your staff members’ certification across all of your establishments. And to ensure that their certifications are always up-to-date and that you don’t lapse in compliance, you need a system that automatically sends managers 30-, 60-, and 90-day notices when those certifications are up for renewal.
3. Do Your Restaurants Document and Archive “Paper Trails?”
If you answered “no,” you’re at risk of being unable to prove that your managers are following the letter of the law related to scheduling staff members. Clear documentation of shift transactions will become a key compliance point for cities and states with predictive scheduling legislation where proof of a shift transaction is required. As those laws pick up steam in localities nationwide, it’s an issue that should be on the radar of multi-store operators across the country.
What You Need
Owners would be wise to have easy access to an archive of documentation showing proof of manager approvals for employee shift transactions. Scheduling software that features continuous electronic documentation can help operators achieve compliance and peace of mind. Solutions that archive time-stamped shift transactions, as well as both voluntary and involuntary schedule modifications, will also help multi-unit leaders maintain compliance.
4. Can Managers Build Schedules Around State and Regional Labor Rules?
Labor regulations aren’t the same in every area, which makes it hard to find a one-size-fits-all solution for multi-store businesses that operate in multiple states. Operators need a solution that can handle predictive scheduling for their stores in Seattle while also managing the Fair Work Week regulations in New York.
What You Need
With software that allows above-store leaders to configure labor rules by store, owners and managers can track everything from minor rules and school calendars to meals and breaks. These features make it much easier to ensure that all of your stores are scheduling employees according to location-specific labor regulations.
5. Do Owners Have Above Store Visibility?
As a restaurant owner, you want to be able to have a line of sight into your stores’ operations. You want to know that food safety audits in your stores are being completed diligently and that your operation is running smoothly across the board.
What You Need
A solution that supports task management, documentation of line checks and temperature monitoring, above store visibility and transparency through shift communications. Intelligent systems that allow above-store leaders to create line checks and share them with their stores will help cultivate a culture of food safety accountability in your business. Furthermore, owners can maintain consistency within their locations.
Today’s restaurants face an increasingly complex and challenging compliance obligation. But restaurant owners and operators can make it much easier for their managers and themselves with modern technologies that automate the most critical, but difficult to follow, compliance regulations.