Restaurant staff Setting out rules and regulations


Hospitality, as we all know, is fuelled by its people, which is why it’s vital that restaurant owners get staffing right if they want to boost their restaurant’s chance of success.

But while hiring candidates with the right attitude, skills and experience required for certain roles is a good start, if new employees are not given guidance on how you expect them to perform in their jobs, these positive attributes may be wasted.

Whatever the size and style of your restaurant, it’s a good idea to create clear HR policies, rules and regulations and make them known, so everyone – whether they are cooking in the kitchen, working front-of-house, preparing drinks behind the bar, or in an admin role – knows what is expected of them from the start.

The best way to do this is by creating a staff handbook. This could be a published manual, or a section on your staff intranet and it doesn’t even need to be labelled ‘staff handbook’ it can take on any name relevant to your restaurant group, as long as the information within it is useful, relevant and accurate.

There are no set rules around what staff handbooks should include, or how detailed they need to be, but broadly they should include the following:

1. Mission statement and company values

Anyone accepting a job with your business should have an idea of what you do and how you deliver it, but they may not know your intentions or be aware of the values that are important to you. Including this detail in a handbook will help them understand their role in the business and give them more buy-in which can have a positive impact on their performance and therefore on the business.

2. Code of conduct

Tell employees how you expect them to behave when working in your restaurant, such as when and where they can take their breaks, plus any other rules you want them to follow. This section could also include details of your business’s dress code and where to source uniforms.

3. Employee pay and benefits

This is where you can outline when and how employees will be paid and details around holiday and sick pay. This would also be where your tips policy should sit. Including a transparent policy for this, often confusing, benefit could help avoid any future discrepancies over how these are distributed.

4. Reporting procedure

Be clear about how employees should report areas such as absence for sickness or other reasons and for more serious issues such as complaints or harassment in the workplace.

5. Health and safety policies

If you employ five or more people you are required by law to have a Health & Safety Policy in place, so it makes sense to include it in your staff handbook to ensure everyone understands how you intend to protect them and how they should act to keep themselves and colleagues safe.

Creating a staff handbook may seem like another task on top of everything else, but it is beneficial for you as the employer, or manager because it will avoid time being wasted answering numerous questions and could also serve as a protection against any future potential legal disputes.

Employees will also appreciate a reference tool and answers to questions they may not feel comfortable asking their line manager.

A staff handbook should be created with care and attention, so all information is accurate. An HR department will do this, if you have one, but if your restaurant is too small to have this function, consider outsourcing, or have it checked by a legal representative at least.

As labour laws and other policies can change, it’s a good idea to update your staff handbook frequently and re-issue to existing staff as well as distribute to newcomers. With the COVID-19 pandemic placing new (and constantly changing) restrictions on the working environment for hospitality it would certainly be worth reviewing and updating every time new mandates are introduced.

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