Make Your Internship a Win-Win!

Make Your Internship a Win-Win!

by: Sam Peregrine, Craila Nixon, Rosemary Rojas, and Matt Brunner

The decision to start an internship program involves planning and thoughtful consideration. As employers are increasingly looking for employees with experience, why shouldn’t new hires gain that experience at your company?! Knowing where to begin can seem overwhelming, but before you reject the idea of an internship program, consider these benefits and helpful tips.

Expand Your Network

Interns have a vast network of relationships, and building an internship program can help you effectively tap into those networks. By creating a meaningful and exciting internship, interns will be quick to share their experiences with friends, family, and classmates. So, if you are proud of your organization and its culture, why not share the experience?

Build Your Brand

An intern who has a positive experience can serve as a brand advocate and help develop your organization’s reputation as a desirable place to work. The best candidates will naturally be drawn to the organization with the strongest reputation. Additionally, in an increasingly socially-minded consumer market, guests and customers will pay attention to how you treat your employees.

Mold Your New Hires

Think about it, if you give your interns a genuine work experience at your company, you have a batch of eligible new hires just waiting there, ready to hit the ground running. They will be trained in the nuances of your business and be able to contribute right away. Isn’t a seasoned entree always better than a bland one?

Provide Meaningful Work

Interns will appreciate the opportunity to gain first-hand experience in their field of study, as well as seeing how their role impacts your company. Ensure you assign tasks that have a specific objective that benefit both your restaurant and intern. See below for some recommended job functions:

Order lunch for the office
Create marketing materials

(signs, flyers, etc.)

Clean the office
Shadow manager tasks

(Vendor orders, budgeting, etc.)

Coordinate events
Make copies all day every day
Learn BOH processes
Running personal errands

(Dry cleaning, babysitting, etc.)

Still wondering which internships make sense for your business?

Not all restaurant internships have to be aimed at aspiring chefs. Whether you’re looking for a social media guru or business major, you can find an intern who can benefit any of the various departments that contribute to a restaurant’s success. If you need guidance on responsibilities and job expectations for your interns, reach out to your HR Consultant for help. We can assist with job descriptions, FLSA compliance, and much more.

Posted in HR

California Meal & Rest Break Law: How eStratEx Timekeeping Guides Compliance

California Meal & Rest Break Law: How eStratEx Timekeeping Guides Compliance

California has some of the most precise and stringent employment laws in the United States. Though this benefits the masses, it puts employers in the restaurant industry at risk of getting sued for violation of laws they may not know exist. This is stifling for businesses, as one complaint can easily snowball into countless lawsuits and massive debt.

One law in particular that restaurant owners must comply with is the California Meal & Rest Break Law. This regulation requires that all employees that work for five hours or more must be provided an uninterrupted 30-minute break. In addition, employees who work shifts longer than three and a half hours are entitled to a 10-minute rest break for every four hours worked. If the employee is not provided a reasonable opportunity to take these breaks, the employee is entitled to a premium of one hour’s pay as reimbursement.

If this law is misinterpreted or ignored, hefty lawsuits can ensue. In 2016 alone, nearly $40 million was awarded to over 45,000 restaurant workers in California. Alternatively, manual tracking can take a large chunk out of your day and become quite literally impossible to maintain in the long-term. To save you the stress of keeping track of every individual employee, StratEx has the option to turn on Meal Break Feedback.

Why StratEx Does Things Differently?

Nearly all alternative HR platforms will track an employee’s break time and prevent an employee from punching back in if their break has been less than 30 minutes. However, this ‘solution’ does not alone satisfy compliance with California Law, as it is unclear if the employee was relieved of all duty. If the employee disagrees with their reported break time, they have no easy way of contesting it. This likely results in uncomfortable manager confrontation, potentially leading to turnover or legal action.

StratEx has enabled a more thorough response system so that there is clarity and assurance that the break is appropriately managed. Further, we track all responses so that if a lawsuit did occur, you have the appropriate documentation to combat it.

How StratEx Guides Compliance

When an employee works five hours or more, StratEx prompts the employee upon clock out to declare whether they received their 30-minute meal break as well as their 10-minute allotted rest break(s). If the employee checks “no”, the system will then ask the employee for a short explanation of why they feel the break was not provided. Once the response has been recorded on their timesheet, StratEx will automatically create the appropriate penalty payment, and clearly denote the explanation on that employee’s timesheet. The payment and comments are disputable and editable from the manager’s perspective if for any reason the information produced is incorrect

What is the employer’s responsibility?

It is important to educate your staff on their rights and the significance of abiding by the company break policy. Additionally, StratEx provides employees with the ability to learn more if they are unaware of the current laws in place. When asked whether or not the employee had received the appropriate breaks, they have the option of clicking a Question Mark icon. This enables a pop-up explanation that provides clarity to what exactly the law states. This facet, along with continuing internal awareness, can better prepare you and your staff and help keep you compliant.

StratEx’s Meal Break Feedback tool combined with employee/employer knowledge, allows you to guard against compliance risk, as well as relieve you of the stresses of tracking and evaluating proper breaks.

For more information or to set up Meal Break Feedback in eStratEx, contact your StratEx representative or request a demo today!

Become a WOTC Wiz: How Your Restaurant can benefit from Work Opportunity Tax Credits

For many individuals, life’s  unexpected challenges can bring forth obstacles to finding  quality jobs and making a living. Certain job seekers in particular,  including veterans, residents of low-income areas, recipients of TANF aid and ex-felons, face difficulty  securing gainful employment. Furthermore, studies have found that these segments of the population experience prejudice when applying for jobs. One example is that a whopping 27.3% of ex-felons are unable to find work, approximately five times the rate of the general public.

In an effort to minimize and reverse this trend, the federal government has created a program called the Work Opportunity Tax Credit (WOTC), which incentivizes employers to hire disadvantaged workers in exchange for a sizeable tax credit.

What is “WOTC”?

The WOTC program was founded in 1996 by the Small Business Protection Job Act and has since helped businesses claim over $1 billion in tax savings each year. The government utilizes the WOTC program to reduce the federal tax liability of employers who hire from “targeted groups” that commonly face significant obstacles to employment. Through this program, qualifying employers can earn a tax credit equal to 25-40% of the eligible employee’s first-year wages, reducing  the total amount of money owed to the IRS.

How much can employers earn?

The amount of your credit is based on which category group your eligible employee falls under, the amount of qualified wages earned, and the number of hours the employee works.

The maximum tax credit per new hire is $9,600, which applies to a disabled veteran who has been unemployed for six months. On the lower end of the spectrum, an employer may claim 25% of a new hire’s first year’s wages for a credit of as much as $1,500.

A reasonable expectation is that 12-15% of a restaurant’s workforce would be WOTC eligible. So, as an example, if you hire 50 new employees in a calendar year, you could receive up to $16,800 in tax credit that can then be re-allocated to other aspects of your business, or used to improve your bottom line.

In addition to the tax credit, other potential benefits of the WOTC program are increased retention rates and higher workforce engagement. For example, let’s say Greg, a 29-year-old disabled veteran, is looking for work. He has been unemployed for several months and has been living off of government assistance. When he gets a job as a fry cook, he is once again able to be self-sufficient and support his family. Greg is grateful to the restaurant for giving him a chance, and remains with the company longer as a result.

Further, hiring WOTC-eligible employees can diversify your workforce, improve company morale, and lower the cost associated with frequent turnover. One study found that 91% of workers with disabilities rated average or better, and performed on par with their peers without disability.

How do employers participate?

There are many programs available that offer WOTC screenings to determine employee eligibility through a series of questions. The programs will work directly with the government and generate reports on a quarterly basis that outline total tax credits received.

How can StratEx help?

StratEx can help you navigate WOTC to save money, without compromising your time. We have partnered with Hiretech to make WOTC screenings as seamless as possible, by preventing the administrative burden from falling on you and your managers. The employee screening questionnaire is integrated with our New Hire module, and prompts the employee to answer a series of questions to determine their WOTC eligibility.

Once they have completed the questionnaire, their information displays on the dashboard for managers or HR users to review. If your employee fits the WOTC criteria, our system sends the information to Hiretech who works directly with the WOTC state agency to get you your tax credit.

For more details on WOTC, or to setup the WOTC Integration, reach out to your StratEx Representative! Or Request a Demo