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Restaurant Owner and the law

Restaurant Owner, is it worth breaking the law?

One of the important aspects of being a restaurant owner is making sure that the establishment is being run legally. This includes many different things.

One of the most common violations in the restaurant industry today is the hiring of illegal immigrants. These people are paid under the table. The restaurant owner thinks this will save a great deal of money because he or she does not need to pay any employee benefits or taxes. Since there is no official record of what the employee is making, the owner can pay them less than the legal minimum wage and can avoid paying taxes.

Restaurant Owner

This “temporary” savings  could result in permanent loss–up to losing the restaurant!  It is important that the owner understand that they could be subject to a fine or even imprisonment if a government official asks to see an I-9 form of a particular employee and  it cannot be provided–and that the owner willingly hired the illegal immigrant. I know it sounds harsh, but monetary penalties for knowingly hire and continuing to employ the person can be harsh Penalties for violations can range from $375 to $16,000 per violation, with repeat offenders receiving penalties, at the higher end. Not only can this hurt the restaurant, but it also can result in that employee being deported or suffering personal penalties. Many restaurants try to save money by hiring illegals. However, this practice often results in the closure of the restaurant in violation.

Other issues could be around the thought of “saving” money on food by not following food safety guidelines or simple common sense with food. The owner could propose that food be used after it has dropped on the floor, or has been cross-contaminated with other food items. There are other health code violations are a common problem found in many restaurants. This can include things like rat or insect infestations in the restaurant. Using ingredients that are past their expiration date is another common health code violation.  All of these practices could lead to customers being ill, having allergic reactions, or even the loss of life!

No one is beyond the law. The laws may seem stiff, but they were written for a reason. The reputation of the restaurant is in the view of the customer. One sick customer who has suffered from eating spoiled food can lead to losses of more customers and eventually the reputation of the restaurant keeps people away. If word gets out of unsafe practices, more often than not, the restaurant ultimately ends up closing. As the restaurant owner, this is not something you want to happen.

Knowing how to follow the laws for hiring minors is a another concern. When you hire a person who is under 18, the owners and managers need to follow the laws on minors. There are laws about the number of hours worked, the time for breaks and payment. Sometimes people think that this law doesn’t apply to a family member who is a minor, but really it is important to follow these laws no matter who the person is. If for no other reason than that the laws should be followed.

Fines, loss of customers, illness, and more can cost a lot more in the long run. A “short-term” saving when laws are violated can result in long term losses–even losing the restaurant itself. Keep it legal, keep it safe, play it smart and stay in business!

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