How to Write an Effective Restaurant Employee Handbook for Your Staff

How to Write an Effective Restaurant Employee Handbook for Your Staff

Table of contents

Grow Orders, Save Time & Eliminate Tablet Chaos
Cuboh integrates your delivery apps and online orders with your POS and consolidates them into a single tablet.

What is a Restaurant Employee Handbook?

A restaurant employee handbook is a comprehensive document that outlines the policies, procedures, and expectations for employees within a restaurant. 

It serves as a guide to help employees understand their roles and responsibilities, as well as the standards of behavior and performance expected by the restaurant. The handbook also provides essential information on the restaurant's mission, values, and the benefits available to employees.

Why Does Your Restaurant Need a Staff Handbook?

Having a restaurant staff handbook is crucial for several reasons. 

Firstly, it helps create a consistent and fair working environment by clearly communicating the restaurant's policies and expectations. This reduces confusion and ensures that all employees are aware of their rights and responsibilities. 

Secondly, a handbook can protect the restaurant legally by providing documented proof of policies and procedures, which can be vital in resolving disputes or addressing misconduct. 

Finally, it fosters a sense of professionalism and organization, contributing to a positive workplace culture and enhancing overall employee satisfaction and performance.

person studying restaurant employee handbook on laptop

Key Sections of a Restaurant Employee Handbook (And What to Include)

A well-structured restaurant employee handbook should cover several essential sections to provide comprehensive guidance to employees. Each section addresses different aspects of employment, from conduct and performance to benefits and safety protocols. By including detailed information on these topics, the handbook ensures that employees have a clear understanding of what is expected of them and the resources available to support their success.

Below are the key sections that should be included in a restaurant employee handbook, along with specific elements to cover within each section.


The introduction and welcome message section serves as the initial greeting to your new employees, setting the tone for their time spent at your restaurant. It should outline the purpose of the handbook and what employees can expect from it. This section is also an opportunity for the management team to express their enthusiasm for the employee's role and the restaurant's mission.

What to Include:

  • Overview of the handbook's purpose
  • Warm welcome message from the management
  • Encouragement for employees to read and refer to the handbook regularly
  • Contact information for questions or further clarification

Company Overview

The company overview section of the restaurant handbook provides employees with a background on the restaurant, including its history, mission, vision, and core values. This section helps employees understand the broader context of their role and how their work contributes to the restaurant's success. It also highlights the restaurant's commitment to creating a positive and inclusive workplace environment.

What to Include:

  • Brief history of the restaurant
  • Mission and vision statement
  • Core values and principles
  • Overview of the restaurant's goals and objectives
  • Introduction to the restaurant's leadership team
staff setting up sign outside restaurant for opening

Equal Employment Opportunity Statement

The Equal Employment Opportunity (EEO) Statement section underscores the restaurant's commitment to providing a workplace free from discrimination and harassment. This section affirms the restaurant's dedication to fair treatment for all employees, regardless of their background or personal characteristics. By outlining the EEO policies, the restaurant fosters an inclusive and respectful work environment where diversity is valued and protected.

Anti-Harassment and Complaint Procedures

The anti-harassment and complaint procedures section is crucial for maintaining a safe and respectful work environment. It should clearly define what constitutes harassment and provide a step-by-step process for employees to report any incidents. This section reassures employees that their concerns will be taken seriously and addressed promptly and fairly.

What to Include:

  • Definition of harassment and examples
  • Zero-tolerance policy on harassment
  • Procedures for reporting harassment
  • Confidentiality of complaints
  • Resources for additional support (e.g., HR contacts)

Code of Conduct

The code of conduct section sets the standard for professional behavior and outlines the expectations for employees while at work. This section helps to create a harmonious and efficient workplace by clearly defining acceptable and unacceptable behaviors. It includes guidelines on dress, punctuality, and interactions with colleagues and customers.

What to Include:

  • Professional behavior and attitude
  • Dress code 
  • Cell phone guidelines and policies
  • Attendance and punctuality expectations
  • Use of restaurant property and resources
  • Guidelines for personal conduct and interactions
  • Confidentiality and data protection
  • Conflict of interest policies
  • Drugs, alcohol and smoking policies
restaurant staff pouring champagne for customers

Job Descriptions and Expectations

The job descriptions and expectations section provides detailed information about the various roles within the restaurant. This section helps employees understand their responsibilities and performance standards as well as the responsibilities of other staff members. 

What to Include:

  • Detailed job descriptions for new employees position
  • Other roles and overview of responsibilities
  • Restaurant staff structure 
  • Performance expectations and standards
  • Probationary period details
  • Criteria for evaluating performance
  • Opportunities for growth and development
  • Expectations for teamwork and collaboration

Compensation and Benefits

The compensation and benefits section outlines the financial and non-financial rewards provided to employees. This section ensures that employees understand their pay structure, overtime policies, and the benefits they are entitled to. Clear communication of these details helps in fostering trust and satisfaction among the staff.

What to Include:

  • Payroll procedures and schedule
  • Salary and wage information
  • Tip sharing information (if applicable)
  • Overtime and holiday pay policies
  • Bonuses and incentives 
  • Employee benefits (health insurance, retirement plans, etc.)
  • Employee discounts and perks (employee meals, etc.)

Work Schedule, Time Off and Leave

The work schedule and hours section details the restaurant's expectations regarding work hours and scheduling. It covers policies related to breaks, meal periods, and procedures for requesting time off and leave. This section ensures that employees are aware of their scheduling responsibilities and how to handle scheduling conflicts or changes.

What to Include:

  • Standard work hours and shifts
  • Scheduling policies and procedures
  • Vacation time off policy
  • Family and medical leave
  • Breaks and meal periods
  • Procedures for requesting time off
  • Procedures for requesting and approving leave
  • Shift swapping and coverage policies
  • Attendance and punctuality expectations
  • Handling scheduling conflicts and changes

Health and Safety Policies

The health and safety policies section is crucial for ensuring the well-being of all employees and customers. This section provides guidelines on maintaining a safe work environment, reporting accidents or injuries, and adhering to food safety and hygiene standards. It emphasizes the restaurant’s commitment to creating a secure and healthy workplace.

What to Include:

  • Workplace safety guidelines
  • Emergency procedures (fire, medical emergencies, etc.)
  • Reporting accidents and injuries
  • Use of safety equipment and protective gear
  • Food safety and hygiene standards
  • Procedures for handling hazardous materials
  • Health and wellness resources
restaurant staff preparing food in the kitchen

Training and Development

The training and development section outlines the restaurant's commitment to continuous learning and growth for its employees. It details the orientation process for new hires and provides information on ongoing training opportunities and performance reviews. This section encourages employees to take advantage of the resources available to enhance their skills and advance their careers.

What to Include:

  • Orientation process for new employees
  • Mandatory training programs (e.g., food safety, customer service)
  • Ongoing training and professional development opportunities
  • Performance reviews and feedback process

Communication and Reporting

The communication and reporting section provides guidelines on how employees should communicate within the restaurant and report any issues or concerns. This section promotes transparency and ensures that employees know the proper channels for raising questions or concerns, thereby fostering a positive and open workplace culture.

What to Include:

  • Internal communication channels (e.g., email, team meetings)
  • Procedures for reporting misconduct or concerns
  • Handling and confidentiality of reports
  • Feedback mechanisms for suggestions and improvements
  • Contact information for key personnel (e.g., HR, management)

Technology Guide

The Technology Guide section provides employees with essential information on how to effectively use the restaurant's technology systems. This section ensures that staff members are proficient in operating tools such as the point of sale (POS) system, kitchen display system (KDS), inventory management software, and reservation platforms. Clear guidelines and troubleshooting tips help maintain smooth and efficient operations, reducing technical issues and enhancing overall productivity.

What to Include:

  • Overview of the POS and KDS system
  • Step-by-step instructions for common tasks (e.g., taking orders, processing payments)
  • Troubleshooting common issues
  • Guidelines for using other technology systems (e.g., inventory management, reservation systems)
  • Security protocols and password management
  • Contact information for technical support

FAQ Section

The FAQ section addresses common questions and concerns employees may have about working at the restaurant. This section serves as a quick reference guide, helping employees find answers to frequently asked questions and clarifying policies and procedures. It can also reduce the need for employees to seek assistance from management for routine inquiries. Include answers to common questions and continuously add to and improve this document as questions arise organically.

Acknowledgment and Agreement

The Acknowledgment and Agreement section is a crucial part of the employee handbook, where employees formally acknowledge that they have read, understood, and agreed to comply with the handbook's policies and procedures. This section ensures that employees are aware of their responsibilities and the standards expected of them, fostering accountability and adherence to the restaurant's guidelines.

restaurant staff preparing food for customers

Grow Orders, Save Time & Eliminate Tablet Chaos

Integrate your delivery apps and online orders with your POS and consolidate them into a single tablet. Helping you reduce order issues, grow your sales, and eliminate delivery headaches.

Continue Reading