Are Your Restaurant Employees Falling Behind In Health, Safety, and Compliance?

The restaurant industry feeds millions of people every day. To keep customers and employees safe, you need to stay current with regulations. We know, regulatory compliance is not exactly fun or exciting compared to booking a large corporate event or opening a second restaurant location. However, it is critical to stay up to date to maintain your restaurant’s reputation.

What Is The Current State of Compliance For Restaurants?

There is good news and bad news when it comes to regulatory compliance for restaurants in Ireland. First, the good news! Our research has found that 90% of restaurants are fulfilling their obligations for health and safety as well as GDPR (General Data Protection Regulation). The bad news? Your restaurant might be in the remaining 10%! In that case, you are at risk of fines and other consequences.

You might assume that your staff is fully trained before you provided training last year. What about employee turnover? The average turnover for all employees in the UK and Ireland is 25% per year. However, most industry experts consider employee turnover in the restaurant industry to be much higher. As a result, all of your staff may have been fully trained a year ago to meet regulatory expectations. However, many of those staff may have left, and you’ve been too busy to check on your newer staff.

There’s another reason why you cannot afford to become overconfident about your restaurant’s regulatory compliance situation. Governments are becoming much more active in applying fines, closing companies, and otherwise enforcing regulations. In the social media age, a fine or finding from a government agency spreads fast. Therefore, you need to be highly proactive in addressing those concerns.

A Brief Review of Key Regulations Restaurant Managers Need To Know About

In this summary, we will cover the two most high profile regulations that restaurants struggle with. Specialized requirements related to taxes and other matters usually handled by professionals, so those are outside our scope.

GDPR Training. 

This EU wide regulation directly impacts how you handle and protect customer information. If you collect customer phone numbers and email addresses for marketing, GDPR applies. It also applies to other personal data for EU residents. EU authorities take GDPR violations seriously and may apply multi-million Euro fines for violations. By December 2018, more than 3000 violations have already been reported to the Data Protection Commission – fines may follow.

Fortunately, not everyone in your restaurant needs to be an expert in GDPR. We suggest offering tiered training for GDPR compliance. For wait staff and kitchen staff, a brief annual refresher on GDPR may be adequate. All staff should be able to answer basic questions about customer privacy protection and know when to refer inquiries to management for additional discussion. For managers and those with responsibility for the restaurant’s computers and data, a more in-depth training session

Health and Safety Training

There are two aspects to effective health and safety training: regulatory standards and company standards. At a bare minimum, you need to fulfill the expectations set down by laws and regulations. However, that’s not enough for some companies. If you want to distinguish your restaurant from the competition, you may choose to set additional standards for your own company. First, let’s review some of the key health and safety compliance requirements you need to meet.

  • Food Safety Training. According to the Food Safety Authority of Ireland: “If you have a food business, or work in the food industry, you are legally required to undertake food safety training and/or be supervised in line with the level of activity you are involved in.” For more information on the principles and ways to meet the Authority’s expectations, consider their food safety training page.
  • General Health and Safety Training. In addition to the food industry requirements outlined above, there are additional requirements you need to know about. For example, there are specific requirements for reporting accidents and injuries. For more details, please check the Workplace Health page of the Health and Safety Authority.

Why Should You Care About Regulatory Compliance Matter As A Restaurant Managers?

If your restaurant has never suffered a fined or otherwise experienced a major incident, you may wonder if regulatory compliance matters. Due to turnover, heightened customer service expectations, and increasing regulatory scrutiny, restaurants are expected to deliver a compliant environment. That’s the rationale for attending to compliance at the restaurant level.

What about you as the individual restaurant manager? Allowing a serious regulatory or legal problem to happen while you are in charge will reflect badly on your career prospects. The only way to mitigate damage to your reputation is if you can explain the steps you took to train staff, monitor for compliance, and act on problems. Without those safeguards, others in the industry are likely to question your competence as a manager.

Three Ways To Train Your Staff: Choose Wisely

In our experience, the single best way to improve regulatory compliance in restaurants lies in improving training. If your employees do not know what to do and how, do not be surprised if they encounter problems. There are three ways to deliver the necessary training.

  • On The Job Training. This is the training approach you might be using right now. With this approach, there is minimal structure or consistency. Staff picks up knowledge and skills as situations develop. While this method is simple, it tends to leave significant gaps.
  • Traditional Classroom Training. Once upon a time, this was the gold standard for company training. It allows employees to focus on a structured program and learn a great deal in a short period. Unfortunately, it is also costly. Further, this training approach is poorly suited to most restaurant employees who have irregular schedules. You might also find it difficult to keep records on who attended training when. That means it is tough to answer questions if inspectors ask for your records.
  • Online on-demand training. This is the best training choice for restaurant employees since it offers both flexibility and depth. Employees can sign up for courses and complete them whenever they have time. From a manager’s point of view, an online training platform also offers tracking and reporting. That means you can find out with a few clicks which employees have completed training and which need a reminder.

Offering online training to your employees is easy. Sign up for HiUp’s platform, built in co-operation with the Restaurant Association of Ireland and let us set up everything for your restaurant.