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Top 3 Ways to Comply with Teen Labor Laws During Back to School Season

Don’t let customer service or guest experience decline as teenage workers go back to school.

Summer is winding down and, much to the dismay of kids across the country, back to school season is underway. For many U.S. restaurants, that means replacing summer employees or adjusting their staff levels as sales volumes shift. The restaurant industry is the nation’s largest employer of teenagers, as roughly 30% of all working minors in the U.S. are employed at a restaurant, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. What’s more, the industry employs a large number of students — census data shows that roughly 27% of restaurant employees are currently enrolled in school, versus just 11% of the nation’s labor force. And because so many young people work in restaurants, the end of summer can be a chaotic stretch for owners and managers. If your business employs a lot of students, a large swath of your staff could either be leaving until next summer or moving to limited availability throughout the week. So, how do you manage that shift without your profit margins taking a hit? Let’s investigate.

1. Proactively Manage Your Teenage Employees

When dealing with young employees, the first place any restaurant owner or manager should start is with compliance. Minors account for roughly 30% of the hospitality workforce — restaurant work is a top for choice for a teen’s first job, but there are rules to managing minors and costly fines if your business fails to comply. Compliance can be easily managed through restaurant employee scheduling software that gives administrators the ability to configure minor rules specific to the state in which your business operates.

Consider a solution that enables managers to:

  • Add local school calendars to schedules, so that your store-level managers can schedule around younger workers’ legal availability.
  • Receive labor warnings to prevent any violations (and the fines that come with them).

Minors are a valuable part of every restaurant’s staff, whether it’s during the school year or summer vacation — that’s why it’s vital to use tools that can fully leverage their availability and help you avoid breaking the rules. We can all agree that we’d like to avoid angry phone calls from parents, let alone visits from the Department of Labor.

2. Empower Employees to Manage their Shifts

Do you have star employees who just went back to school? If so, it’s worth it for your managers to be cognizant of their schedules, in order to keep them on staff. Restaurant employee scheduling software can help facilitate that, especially a mobile app-based solution that allows employees to make schedule requests and shift changes. A scheduling app helps your managers establish standard procedures that your employees can follow, so they get the necessary time off and it’s fair for everybody. An employee scheduling solution also empowers your workforce to do most of the legwork themselves. With a labor management solution like Clarifi Labor by HotSchedules, a team member can simply request a shift swap, and your manager just has to make the approval once the system checks that the swap won’t impact the business or the overtime hours. Plus, configurable minor rules in Clarifi Labor will be recognized in shift transactions as well – a minor won’t see shifts for pick up or swap if that transaction would violate the labor laws.

3. Capitalize on Your Team’s Network

It’s natural to have your staff churn when they go back to school. It’s also important to keep your business staffed for the forecasted traffic in your stores. Just because an employee can’t work for you during the school year doesn’t mean your manager can’t ask them for candidate recommendations!  If you have an all-star employee who can’t return because of school duties, find out if they have any all-star friends who want to come work for you. Studies show that internal referrals are more likely to stay at a company longer than candidates found on job boards or at career fairs.


Learn more about how HotSchedules labor solutions can help you manage minors.

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