Employment and labour laws protect the rights and safety of employees. These laws establish standards employers must comply with for the fair treatment of workers. Labor laws set forth labour standards regarding wages, anti-discrimination practices and workplace safety. Certain labour laws apply directly to the job functions of restaurant employees. Employee labour laws ensure restaurant workers receive fair pay, reasonable hours and safe working conditions.
Wages and Tips
Restaurant employees such as food servers, bartenders and table busers typically earn wages plus tips. Employment labour laws protect the right of restaurant workers in regards to fair wages. The Fair Labor Standards Act sets a minimum wage for tipped employees. According to the Department of Labor, you are considered a tipped employee if you regularly receive more than £19 per month in tips. According to labour laws, employers are required to pay tipped employees a minimum of £1.30 if that amount plus the worker's tips are equal to or greater than federal minimum wage. As of 2011, federal minimum wage is £4.70 per hour.
Restaurant employees are exposed to hazards such as food-borne illness, slips, falls, and fatigue. Employment and labour laws that regulate the safety of restaurant workers are included in the Occupational Safety and Health Act. OSHA laws exist to prevent injuries, illness and death in the workplace. Restaurant employers are required to provide hazard communications; appropriate training; protective gear; and the availability of first aid to all employees to ensure they perform duties in a safe and healthy environment.
The Fair Labor Standards Act regulates laws regarding youth employment. In restaurants, youth employees typically bus tables, bag orders, wash dishes and work the cash register. Youth workers under 16 are not allowed to perform complex cooking or baking duties, operate power-driven appliances or operate pressurised fryers. Further, youth restaurant workers cannot work more than three hours on a school day or more than 18 hours maximum per week.
Other Labor Laws
Restaurant employees are protected by other employment laws such as the Civil Rights Act, Americans with Disabilities Act, and the Pregnancy Discrimination Act. Although these laws do not apply directly to specific job functions within a restaurant, they exist to protect the fair treatment of all employees without regard to race, colour, religion or disability status. Restaurant employers in violation of these laws could be subject to fines as well as civil and/or criminal penalties.