Operating a Restaurant within the Law: A 101 in Compliance (Part 2)

From labor laws to food safety laws and new regulations such as no smoking laws, understanding and achieving compliance with legal and regulatory requirements can have a big effect on the success of a restaurant operation.

Earlier this week I posted part one (focusing on minimum wage, tips, and overtime) in this two-part overview of the federal regulations that impact restaurateurs and links to where you’ll find more guidance.

This second post focuses on how your restaurant business can understand and achieve compliance with the laws that pertain to youth labor, immigration, food safety and taxes.

Restaurant-Specific Labor Laws

While there are many resources here to help small business owners understand and comply with labor and employment laws, the areas of labor law that are particularly relevant to the restaurant business are child and teen labor laws.

Working minors (under the age of 18) are entitled to the same minimum pay and overtime protections as adults, but they are subject to federal youth employment provisions that limit their work hours and restrict some of the tasks that they can do. You can get more information about employing youth workers at www.youthrules.dol.gov.

If you want to find out quickly and easily whether you are compliant with labor laws, use this quick Restaurant Employer Self Assessment Tool. The tool helps employers comply with the youth employment provisions of the Fair Labor Standards Act. It’s a handy way of preventing problems and achieving compliance.

Read more about employing youth in the restaurant business on Business.gov here.

Food Safety and Nutritional Labeling Laws

The FDA oversees food safety guidelines and regulations that are required for food labeling and the safe preparation, manufacture, and distribution of food products. You can get food safety regulation information for new businesses, as well as safe food handling and labeling guidelines here.

Your local government also enforces food safety and hygiene standards, and often-times publishes findings on the Internet for the benefit of the community. Get tips for working with your local health inspection team and being prepared for a surprise inspection here.

Working with Immigrants

The restaurant industry is in the spotlight when it comes to complying with immigration laws. With immigrants representing 10% of all workers employed in food service and preparation, you’re going to need to know about the immigration laws that affect your business.  Business.gov’s Small Business Guide to Immigration Regulations can help.

Taxes and Restaurant Owners

The IRS’ Restaurants Tax Center provides advice, guidance and links to the forms you’ll need to stay on top of record keeping, reporting employee tips, and tax forms.

Other Resources