Understanding the types of laws for restaurants and bars, and knowing which ones apply to your establishment are the first steps to making sure your establishment is up to code.
Every industry and service has various rules, regulations and laws that service providers must abide by in order to legally operate. Restaurants are no different. Here are six laws all restaurant owners should be aware of.
1. Employee Safety Laws
Restaurants must comply with OSHA regulations and other employee safety laws just like all other businesses. You can check OSHA’s website for general employee safety rules and restaurant-specific regulations. The most common risks of injury in restaurants include smoke inhalation or burns from fires, falls, lacerations from handling sharp cooking implements and strain or injury from lifting heavy loads. Restaurants also need to think about employee health. Handling raw meat, for example, can carry a risk of viral or bacterial contamination, so it’s important that you make sure your employees are aware of these and follow hygiene rules and regulations.
2. Equipment Regulation Compliance
All bar and restaurant equipment must be shown to comply with federal, state and local regulations. Refrigerators and freezers must be able to meet minimum temperatures to ensure food can be safely stored. They’re also required to have working thermometers installed so the temperature can regularly be checked. Your cooking appliances, such as ovens, stovetops, pizza ovens, broilers and grills must all meet safety and cleanliness regulations to mitigate the risk of fires.
3. Health Grade Regulations
Health grades are likely the most well-known aspect of laws that apply to restaurants. Your health grade will be awarded by a health inspector from your jurisdiction, based on several factors. These factors may vary depending on jurisdiction, but will typically include employee hygiene, pest control, food storage and food preparation and handling. Your health grade will be a letter grade, and if you think you’ve been given a low grade unfairly, you’re able to appeal that decision. Inspections are performed at random, but you can expect them to happen on an annual basis.
4. Accommodations for Employees
Employee accommodations relate to various human rights laws. Like all businesses, restaurants must offer reasonable accommodations to all of their employees. Employees eligible for accommodations can include people who ascribe to certain religious practices, pregnant woman and nursing mothers, those with disabilities and domestic violence victims, among others. Depending on your jurisdiction, the employee may need to submit proof of his or her need for accommodations. In all jurisdictions, your restaurant will be required to provide accommodations within reasonable limits.
5. Food Service Licenses
Because of the stringent regulations regarding safely storing, preparing and selling food, all businesses that provide food must have the proper licenses and related paperwork, such as restaurant permits, to operate. The license you receive will depend on the type of business you’re operating and the type of food you’re selling. If you fail your health inspection or are found to be out of compliance with employee safety and accommodations, equipment regulations or health requirements, then your license may be revoked. It may also be suspended until such time as you can prove that your operations and equipment are in compliance.
6. Alcohol Licenses
Licenses to sell alcohol vary by state, but generally, you need to apply for a license with your local government and be approved to sell alcohol. Your state may differentiate between hard liquor and other alcoholic beverages, such as beer and wine. The place where alcohol is being sold may also affect your license requirements. For example, if you’re operating a bar where food isn’t sold, you may need a different type of license than you would if you were selling alcohol at a restaurant. Check your state’s control board to learn about its regulations, as well as any local alcohol regulations that may apply to your bar or restaurant.
If you don’t comply with federal laws and regulations, as well as those set by your state and local jurisdiction, you’ll risk legal repercussions. Understanding the types of laws for restaurants and bars, and knowing which ones apply to your establishment are the first steps to making sure your establishment is up to code.