Free restaurant employee handbooks from trustworthy online sources provide the freedom and convenience that small restaurant owners need to save money and time in running their business. However, there are certain risks in using free restaurant employee handbooks without crosschecking whether the generic policies fit the needs of your restaurant business.
Before you publish your employee handbook, consider the following points:
1. Have you consulted a lawyer or a law firm to verify the contents of your employee handbook?
It seems easier to just download templates of free restaurant employee handbooks, and then, chop up the sections you need and reassemble them together. However, keeping the text in your employee handbook generic might present a problem in the future.
The additional expense of hiring a lawyer is worth it when you find your business in jeopardy over a labor dispute. The words you choose will determine the way your employees understand your work policies.
Your lawyer will also counter check your policies against those required by your state as well as additional sources, such as city ordinances and the policies set by the US FDA regarding food handling and sanitation.
2. Are you practicing at-will employment?
Employing at will may seem practical for a small business, but it also leaves you vulnerable to disputes, such as wrongful termination charges. This limitation is under the implied-contract exception, which is one of three exceptions to the at-will employment rule.
Although you hired an employee without a written and signed contract, the presence of a restaurant employee handbook translates into a binding contract within the following conditions:
a. When you state that an employee can be terminated due to “just cause,” you cannot fire any of your restaurant staff without the presence of just cause, which defies the nature of at-will employment.
b. When the employee handbook explicitly states the standard procedures for employment termination, and you suddenly fire one of your employees without due process, then you are liable for breach of contract claims.
c. Avoid using binding language, such as referring to a job as “career” or providing policies for promotion and demotion, which are not possible in at-will employment.
3. Have you made provisions for cultural competency in your restaurant employee handbook?
Most workplaces today are multi-cultural and multi-lingual. In recognition of this diversity, your employee handbook as well as postings in your restaurant should be translated into one or two other languages. The most common foreign languages include Spanish and Chinese.
Aside from tri-lingual translations, your restaurant employee handbook should also include provisions for holidays usually observed by other cultures. For example, Halloween may not usually require absence from work, but the Day of the Dead does. Visiting graves and participating in a procession are traditional practices for this special day in November.
Free restaurant employee handbooks are practical options compared to buying ready-to-use handbooks, but before you can use one of them as your own policy manual, you will have to tweak the content to strengthen the document’s legal validity and to adhere to accommodate diversity in the workplace.