How Multi-Unit Restaurants Can Maintain Compliance
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, multi-unit restaurant operators must 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 2017, 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 four questions.
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.
“Restaurant operating platforms like Clarifi by HotSchedules generate alerts that warn managers when employees aren’t taking their required breaks or when scheduling minors for shifts that are out of compliance,” said Mary Hamill, Vice President of Sales Solutions for HotSchedules, which provides the leading cloud-based intelligent operating platform for the restaurant, retail and hospitality industries.
Are You Tracking Staff Certifications for Food Handling and Alcohol Service?
To stay in compliance with food and alcohol service certifications, you need to track your staff members’ certification across all of your establishments. To ensure that their certifications are always up-to-date and 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.
“It’s easy to get caught up in the day-to-day as a manager. Before you know it your best bartender is no longer certified. We configure our smartphones with alerts and alarms for all kinds of things,” added Hamill. “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.”
Do Your Restaurants Document and Archive “Paper Trails?”
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. 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.
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.
“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,” Hamill said. “These features make it much easier to ensure that all of your stores are scheduling employees according to location-specific labor regulations.”
Today restaurants are faced with an increasingly complex and challenging compliance obligation. But restaurant owners and operators can make it much easier on their managers and themselves with modern technologies that automate the most critical, but difficult to follow, compliance regulations.