While creating an employee schedule may seem straightforward at first, many restauranteurs quickly realize just how challenging it can be.

Between carefully balancing the schedules of underage workers and covering multiple shifts per day, often seven days per week, restaurant scheduling requires tremendous planning and care.

But that care pays off. Here’s how good scheduling practices lower HR stress.

The challenge of employee scheduling

Restaurants face several unique factors when it comes to employee scheduling.

First, a large percentage of their workforce involves underage workers. And while minors are a wonderful asset to the industry, strict laws and regulations govern the hours they may work and even the jobs they can perform. One simple scheduling slip-up can result in non-compliance with the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA), costing the restaurant dearly.

Second, most restaurants’ hours of operation span multiple meal times, amplifying the importance of proper staffing. For example, quick service establishments are often open 24 hours, seven days per week. Others locations serve only breakfast, while others are open for both lunch and dinner.

Add in the mixture of full- and part-time employees to cover those numerous shifts, and the complexity of the scheduling increases tenfold.

Lastly, tracking mealtimes, breaks, and even overtime can be challenging simply because of the sheer number of employees coming in and out on any given day. Differentiating between meal periods and rest periods is key to avoid violating FLSA guidelines too.

The benefits of proper scheduling

When you can get — and stay — on top of scheduling, human resource tasks become infinitely less stressful.

A proper scheduling system can:

  • Minimize the amount of overtime paid to nonexempt employees.
  • Ensure sufficient staff coverage for mealtimes and rest periods.
  • Track vacation and sick time as well as FMLA and leaves of absence.
  • Assist with advanced labor forecasting.
  • Identify the hours and positions available to minor employees.

Even better, it can help you avoid labor violations and the costly fines that go along with them.

How scheduling software can help

If you’ve been in the business long enough, you probably recall how scheduling used to take place — via pen and paper.

Thankfully, now there is software to help ease the burden of this complicated task.

The right software can automate your entire scheduling process. It can ensure your establishment is appropriately staffed so that patrons receive the excellent service they’ve come to expect. It can track mealtimes, vacation, and make labor forecasting a breeze. It truly has the potential to be a one-stop shop.

Scheduling software has the ability to maximize your best assets — your people — while minimizing the risk of non-compliance with a laundry list of complex labor laws.

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What type of scheduling system do you use? Is it working well for your restaurant? Please tell me in the comments below!