Posted on: May 25, 2023

Restaurant Employee Handbook: What Policies are Most Important?

Restaurant Employee Handbook

Depending on where you’ve worked, you might have seen an employee handbook at some point in your career. The food industry is no different. Restaurant employee handbooks contain essential information such as rules, guidelines, and restaurant policies that employees agree to follow once they begin employment.  

However, not all policies are created equal. In this blog, we’ll cover a few of the most critical items that should be found in every restaurant employee handbook to ensure a better workplace environment.  

What is an Employee Handbook? 

An employee handbook can go by several names, including an employee, company, or policies and procedures manual. Regardless of the actual title, they all contain relatively similar information regarding restaurant policies and procedures, such as: 

  • Company rules and policies 
  • Vacation and healthcare benefits 
  • Health and safety policies 
  • Dress code 

Employee handbooks will also include more serious legal matters, such as: 

  • Harassment policies 
  • Anti-discrimination policies 
  • Workplace conduct and behavior 
  • Disciplinary procedures 

Why Employee Handbooks Are Important?

Employee handbooks are crucial to the smooth running of a restaurant because they set clear guidelines and expectations for their workers. Having these standards in place means less miscommunication or conflicts involving what is and is not allowed in the workplace, creating a better working environment.  

Having an employee handbook also means employees can find all the restaurant’s rules and regulations in one convenient place. Suppose an employee is looking to take some time off soon or wants additional information on some of their insurance benefits. In that case, they can easily find the answers they are looking for directly from the employee handbook.  

Policies That Should Be in Every Handbook 

  • Health and Safety Regulations 

Restaurants must always comply with federal, state, or local health and safety regulations to maintain a clean and safe work environment. That’s why this section of an employee handbook is pretty essential. This section might cover anything from proper cleaning and sanitation procedures, food handling and preparation, first aid safety, and properly disposing of hazardous waste.

  • Employee Code of Conduct 

Another crucial part of any employee handbook is the employee code of conduct. This section will outline the restaurant’s rules and regulations for employees and the company’s guidelines for work expectations, appropriate workplace behavior, and the disciplinary process for failing to adhere to any of the rules. Regardless of how many employees a company or business has, having an employee code of conduct can make working there much smoother. 

  • Anti-Harassment and Discrimination Policies  

While we’re on the topic of appropriate workplace behavior, you should find another issue in every employee handbook: the company’s anti-harassment and discrimination policies. A 2021 study found that more than 70% of female restaurant employees have been sexually harassed. Having these policies in place helps to show the company’s commitment to promoting a safe and respectful workplace environment for all employees, regardless of their age, gender, race, color, disability, religion, or sexual orientation. Including these policies can also inform employees on how to report any incidents of harassment or discrimination directly to the company so proper action can be taken. 

  • Employee Benefits 

Employee benefits such as health insurance, life insurance, paid time off, or bonuses are just some of the many perks of an employee’s compensation package. Including employee benefits in an employee handbook means providing clarity and necessary information to help employees plan for their financial futures. 

  • Social Media Policies 

It’s safe to say we live in the digital age where social media has become woven into our daily lives. Having social media policies in place can help to protect a company’s reputation online, reduce legal risks, protect employee privacy, and encourage responsible use of social media at work. 

  • Emergency Procedures 

The last thing a company wants is for its employees to be found completely unprepared in case of an emergency. That’s why having emergency procedures clarified ahead of time is especially important. Some examples of what might be in this section are what to do in certain situations, such as a fire, a weather disaster, or a violent workplace incident. Including this section in a restaurant employee handbook can help reduce confusion, help improve emergency response time, and, most importantly, keep employees safe.

  • Scheduling and Time Off Policies 

Every business has its own policies when it comes to scheduling and paid or unpaid time off. Being able to read these policies beforehand means fewer surprises for both employees and supervisors who manage staffing. This part of the employee handbook ensures fairness regarding everyone’s time off, helps ensure work is still being completed on time, and encourages work-life balance. 

  • Dress Code  

A company’s dress code can vary drastically depending on what kind of restaurant you are working for. A casual eatery might allow accessories such as baseball caps or t-shirts, while a fine-dining restaurant might require employees to wear freshly pressed formal shirts and slacks. If it’s important for the restaurant to maintain uniformity among its employees, then establishing a standard dress code is crucial. A dress code can also help keep a particular atmosphere and aesthetic and shows customers that cleanliness is essential. 

  • Alcohol and Drug Policies  

Can an employee enjoy a cocktail after their shift at the restaurant they’re employed by? Can they do so while still in their uniform? Will the company issue random drug tests, even in states where recreational drugs, such as marijuana, are legal? All these answers and more would be found in the alcohol and drug policies section. Alcohol and drug laws can vary depending on the state, and as we’ve mentioned, the restaurant will have the last word regarding its policies. Having this section in an employee handbook can help maintain consistency when enforcing drug and alcohol rules and protect the company from future liability if an employee hurts themselves, others, or company property while under the influence

  • Complaint Procedures 

If an employee does happen to break a rule listed in the employee handbook and a coworker knows about it, they should report the issue immediately. Luckily, they’ll know exactly how to do that thanks to the complaint procedures set in place by their restaurant. Establishing these policies will help employees feel safe about raising concerns before they become even bigger problems later. This section might also contain information on how an issue may be submitted and addressed and a timeline for resolving their concerns, which can help promote workplace transparency. 

While there are currently no laws requiring restaurants to have an employee handbook, other federal and state laws still need to be followed at any place of work. The best way for a restaurant to show it complies with these regulations is by having an employee handbook in place.  

You can get started on your food and beverage industry journey today by purchasing one of our alcohol server and selling training programs today.