Scheduling Employees Must Obey Applicable Laws and Account For Employee Shortages

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 employee scheduling software programs 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.

Example:┬áThe general manager at an ice cream store needs to ensure that one manager is always on duty, as well as a number of representatives are available to scoop ice cream. Each employee is required to receive a number of breaks during their shift, and this particular business prefers to hire employees who are minors to fill “holes” in the schedule. During a normal work day, between three and four employees are working.

By not carefully scheduling the break and meal periods and minor rules, the manager may end up with a shortage of staff as multiple employees take breaks (or leave for the day) at the same time, and minor employees leave for home. During the labor shortage, customers will not be serviced appropriately. Alternatively, the manager may choose not to send employees home when they should or allow breaks to proceed – grounds for heavy fines, a lawsuit, and/or increased insurance premiums.

Labor & Industries (L&I) audits are common in some US states (California, Washington, Oregon, and New York are the most common) in restaurant, food-service, and other 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 employee 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.

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