In many locales, labor laws for the service industry severely limit the number of hours that a non-exempt employee can work. Hours worked can be limited by the industry, age, job description (position worked), hourly rate, holiday, length of shift, or even the day of the week. If your business works with service unions, these rules can become even more complicated, requiring that managers spend time tracking breaks and meal periods and indicating whether or not employees wanted to take their break. Some states and insurance companies perform regular Labor & Industries audits, imposing heavy fines or insurance premium increases for non-compliant businesses.
Careful managers schedule around these frequently changing and complicated rules, ensuring that their business is compliant with all applicable labor regulations. However, businesses can inadvertently land themselves in hot-water when employees fail to show up, quit, or are terminated for otherwise legitimate reasons. Inexperienced managers, overburdened by other areas of schedule creation can forget about these rules, which are not core to the “making money” aspect of their business. Stiff fines and lawsuits are the result of failing to be in compliance.
In uncertain economic times managers must be able to schedule labor correctly in a consistent manner, keep employees happy, and reduce fines imposed by legislative authorities, such as the Department of Labor. Businesses should seek to use cost-effective computer systems, such as TimeForge, to ensure that proper scheduling techniques are utilized. Effective scheduling software will be able to schedule meal and break periods, accurately calculate overtime costs, and archive previous schedules for managerial review.
Labor & Industries (L&I) audits are common in some US states (California, Washington, Oregon, and New York are especially common) in restaurant, food-service, retail, construction, and hospitality-related industries. These audits are performed by the state or by insurance companies to verify that the business has complied with all applicable regulations. Audits focus on unpaid overtime, minors working too late or too early, break and meal periods that are not properly documented, and other violations. Rule infractions can be punished with stiff fines and/or insurance premium increases.
Make sure that all employees are aware of the applicable rules for the city, county, and state / province. Follow federal / national rules (where applicable), corporate rules, and insurance regulations (if applicable). Where possible, automated scheduling systems should be utilized to enforce these rules reducing the administrative burden placed on managers – allowing management to work on other pressing issues such as training, customer service, and management tasks which cannot be automated by cost-effective technology solutions.