Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Are they trying to drive employees away?

We've had a lot of changes at my restaurant in the last year or so, most of which have pissed us all off. We no longer get paychecks, the money gets put right on a debit card that's a big pain in the ass to retrieve our money from. We went from jeans and a black shirt to head-to-toe black. We got new, enormous, hugely colorful, cheesy-line-infused menus. We no longer put silverware on the tables ahead of time, only when guests are seated. Etc.

None of those are that big a deal; minor annoyances. Now, though, corporate has made what I suspect will be a very bad decision for everyone involved: they've decreed that employees can no longer smoke at work.

I don't smoke, so it doesn't impact me immediately. But I work with a lot of people who already get bitchy as hell when they don't get their nicotine by eight at night. I do not want to see them on an eight hour closing shift when they're not allowed to smoke.

Honestly, I'm not even sure how it's legal for them to say this. According to the labor law, you're supposed to get a paid fifteen minute break for every four hours of work. Even though it's paid, it's personal time. How can they tell you what to do with that time, as long as it's not illegal? They say it's because of laws banning smoking within a certain number of feet of the door--but I'm pretty sure that's only a public entrance, not a bad door to the trash area or whatever. They also say it's a safety concern, because they "can't guarantee" employees won't be injured while off store property--but this is just going to force people to leave the property to smoke. Which is maybe the point, if somebody is hurt off the property it's not their legal responsibility.

I'm sure they're thinking this will cut back on guest wait times, improve service, blabbity blah. In reality, it's going to lead to pissed off and cranky employees, being pissed off and cranky at each other and guests. It's also going to lead to people sneaking out to their cars, desperate to suck down half a cigarette. But it's also probably going to lead to some of my more addicted coworkers quitting their jobs in favor of more cancer-friendly places.
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    ♥ Caz said...

    Stay clear of smokers if they can't smoke at work. Its going to get rougher than it was before.

    But I'm sure that they can't stop what you do in the 15mins your away.

    Mama Insomnia said...

    That Debit card system sucks. We were implemeting it at my old job right before I left. My husband is the GM of a company that doesn't allow it's employees to smoke, but they all do anyways. He's a pretty laid back guy, so he lets them do it, but if his boss is there the servers know they have to go to their car and smoke.

    John said...

    When I worked in a restaurant, the smokers were the only ones to take these "breaks" - if you didn't smoke, you kept working and had to even cover for them. Granted, things weren't always on the up and up there, but it still pissed me off to no end.

    If anything, this should create more stories for you to document, once smokers are in the throes of withdrawal.

    Sarah said...

    I don't think it's legal for them to tell you what you can and cannot do on a personal break, outside of the restraunt or 30 feet away or whatever. I'd ask a lawyer. (seriously)

    purplegirl said...

    Caz, that's what I'm afraid of! They're going to be absolutely terrible.

    MI, your husband's employees are lucky. CL's not going to bend the rules for them at all.

    John, I get so pissed off about that--I've pretended I'm having a cigarette just so I could actually get a break, since apparently drinking some water or eating isn't a good reason to stop pandering to customers!

    Sarah, if I knew a lawyer I would. It wouldn't surprise me if somebody in the company does just that.