Staffing Your Catering Business
Catering Staff Considerations
Like many entrepreneurs, you may have begun your catering business as the sole cook and bottle washer. But at some point, you will discover that going it alone not only impedes growth, but is a recipe for burnout and collapse. And you’ll face the question of every successful catering business: How do I find and retain effective staff?
Here, from industry experts and experienced caterers, are just a few of the major considerations to keep in mind as you determine your staffing needs and responsibilities:
- You will have the primary responsibility for the safety and welfare of your workers, including establishing safe practices.
- Employees or independent contractors? Since staffing needs often vary widely from event to event, independent contractors are frequently the go-to staff for catering. However, it is vital—for both legal and tax purposes—to understand and fully comply with federal and state labor laws defining “independent contractor” versus “employee.”
- Be certain all workers are properly trained in recipe preparation, the health and safety regulations and guidelines for safe food handling, the safe use of equipment, and proper serving.
- If including youthful workers, comply with all applicable child labor laws.
- Be aware of health and safety issues common to catering operations. Be certain workers and supervisors are properly trained to minimize risks and respond to injuries.
- Be sure all worksites, including off-site event locations, provide adequate safety and health facilities, such as hot and cold running water, proper utilities and restrooms.
- Will your staff require protective clothing or equipment? If so, will you provide it? How will you be certain workers will not only use it, but do so properly?
- Become familiar with all applicable OSHA (Occupational Safety and Health Administration) regulations and guidelines on catering worker safety. Remember the three worker standards that OSHA enforces:
- Right to know about workplace hazards.
- Right to protection from these hazards.
- Right to act to improve workplace safety.
- Learn your state regulations concerning unemployment insurance and how it will or will not apply, depending upon your staffing choices.
You will need to consult legal and accounting advisers to comply with the myriad laws and tax code issues involving workers. But be certain to include your Trusted Choice Agent® in staffing discussions. Your agent will often be familiar with worker safety and classification issues faced by others in similar businesses as your own.
But your Trusted Choice Agent’s real expertise will come to the fore in providing risk management and insurance protection suggestions specific to your needs. For example:
- When must you have workers compensation insurance in effect?
- If, at the time of accident or injury, that "independent contractor" is instead classified as an "employee" - or vice versa - how will your workers compensation and liability coverages respond?
- What other coverages may be necessary to minimize the chance your business will suffer an uncovered financial loss due to work accident or inury?
Properly meeting the staffing needs of your catering business is vital to your continued growth and ability to deliver promised service to clients. Help ensure your success—put your Trusted Choice Agent to work for you today.
Common Catering Hazards
While any workplace can present multiple risks to the safety and health of workers, according to the aptly titled Official British Health and Safety Executive (HSE), here are the most common causes of accidents and ill health in the catering industry. The HSE states all can be prevented or minimized by effective training, good management and proper supervision:
- Slips, trips and falls.
- Manual activities such as lifting.
- Coming into contact with hot surfaces.
- Contacting harmful substances.
- Disorders of the upper limbs.