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Employee Onboarding Checklist for Restaurants

Mar 31, 2016 8:37:00 AM / by Burt Monroe posted in restaurants, small business operations


Managing employees for your restaurant is a full-time job, especially when you have new hires joining the team. To get you and your new employee focused on the important aspects of training for success, it's great to have a simple onboarding checklist to get crucial paperwork completed for the employee's file.

Here's a quick checklist for successfully onboarding new hires for your restaurant.

1. Employee Contact Information 

Collect primary contact information including address, phone number, email address, and emergency contact details. 

2. Form W-4

Have your employee complete IRS Form W-4 so you can withhold the correct income tax from your employee's pay. W-4 forms can be updated yearly when an employee's personal or financial situation changes. 

3. Form I-9

Form I-9 is used for verifying the identity and employment authorization of individuals. All employers must ensure proper completion of the form for each hire. Employees must present you with acceptable documents evidencing identity and employment authorization. As the employer, record and retain the Form I-9 for potential inspection by authorized government officers.

4. Employee Handbook

It's a good idea to have an employee handbook that clearly states policies for paid-time off (PTO), employee behavior, pay and promotions, and any provided benefits. For legal reasons, also include policies for family medical leave, equal employment and non-discrimination, and worker's compensation. It's advisable to note that the handbook is not a contract and is subject to change. Each employee should sign an agreement stating that they have read and understand the handbook. 

5. Receipt of Company Property

Should you provide employees with uniforms, aprons, or other company property, be sure to record what was given and have your employee sign off on your return policy when employment is terminated.


6. Meal Policy Agreement

It’s not uncommon for restaurant employees to receive discounted or free meals before, during, or after their shift. In addition to making employees feel appreciated, providing them with opportunities to taste the product also gives them an edge in selling to customers or in food preparation. Clearly outline your restaurant's meal policy and have new hires sign an agreement. 

7. Work Availability Form

Many restaurant employees have other obligations that require a flexible schedule resulting in part-time or seasonal employment. To reduce turnover rates, make it a practice to officially record and update work availability times for each employee.

8. Tip Policy

Although tip pooling or sharing cannot be required by employers in Minnesota, there are certain situations (banquets, catering, etc.) when shared gratuity can be divided among direct service employees. It's a good idea to educate new hires on tip rules and regulations as well as your restaurant's own policies.   

9. Food Handler Certification

The state of Minnesota requires that one full-time individual on staff maintain Certified Food Manager status. If your new employee is certified, or you request that they be certified in the future, be sure to maintain a copy of their certification.

10. Job Description

It may seem like a no-brainer, but many restaurants don't clearly define roles for their employees in writing. A good job description is more than a laundry list of tasks and responsibilities. It not only provides a clear picture of the position for the employee, but is also a useful tool for measuring performance or dealing with a dispute or disciplinary issue.

When it comes to a new hire, you want them to get up to speed in a hurry to achieve peak performance on the floor or behind the line. Successful onboarding, however, starts with completing an employee's file. Once the paperwork is out of the way, you and your employee are free to focus on training for the job at hand.


Burt Monroe

Written by Burt Monroe