Rights and Responsibilities

It does not matter whether a job makes you part of a large workforce or of a small business. When you accept a job, you enter into a relationship. As an employee, you must maintain a good relationship between yourself and your employer. Both you and your employer have rights and responsibilities. Specific expectations and work rules will be explained to you by your employer when you begin your job.

In this section, you will learn about your rights as an employee and your responsibilities to your employer. You will learn about wages, taxes, and benefits. You will practice the skills you need to get along with cowork-ers on the job. You will also identify some of the qualities that you will need to advance in the foodservice industry.

Employee Responsibilities

As an employee, your main responsibility is to do the very best job possible for your employer. This means that you must be responsible, reliable, flexible, and honest. It also means that you must use job resources correctly and efficiently.

There are several ways for you to carry out your responsibilities:

• Show up for work when you are scheduled, and be on time for work. Stay at work for your full shift, or the specified hours of employment. Return promptly from designated breaks and meal periods.

• Use your work time responsibly. Keep busy on the job. Do not waste time chatting with coworkers. Never use company time or resources for personal business.

• Respect the business by learning and following your employer's rules, regulations, and policies. You will probably be given an employee handbook. Once you review the policies, you may be asked to sign a statement that says i ) FIGURE 4.5 Culinary Advancement Opportunities

Move Up There are many job advancement opportunities in a professional kitchen. Which of the jobs listed in the table are service-related?




Head server




Kitchen helper

Counter worker

Assistant manager



Dining room supervisor

Banquet captain

Cafeteria attendant

Cafeteria supervisor

Short-order cook

Line cook

Kitchen worker

Pantry supervisor

Baker's assistant



Sous chef

Caterer or chef

Restaurant owner

Prep cook

Line cook

Garde manger


Pastry cook

Pastry chef

Line cook

Sous chef

Sous chef

Executive chef

Executive chef

Corporate chef

that you understand them. If you are in doubt about a company policy, ask your employer any questions. Work safely and familiarize yourself with the safety requirements of your job. Learn how to operate and maintain equipment safely. Report any unsafe conditions or practices to your supervisor immediately. Maintain a positive, enthusiastic attitude. Be polite and respectful to supervisors, other employees, and customers. Follow directions that you are given. Accept constructive criticism, and try to work your best without constant supervision. Complete each task that you are assigned. Keep your work area neat and well organized. Use company resources efficiently and responsibly.

Safety First Performing your work safely protects you and your employer. What other responsibilities do employees have on the job?

Advance on the Job

Foodservice jobs offer many ways to advance. Advancement may come as a job promotion. Advancement also may include getting more responsibilities at the same job level. Sometimes, advancement may involve leaving your current workplace for a better job elsewhere, or beginning your own business. (See Figure 4.5.)

You will know how well you perform your job through evaluations that you receive from your employer. An evaluation is a written report of how well you have performed your duties, and what you can do to improve. You can use this information to make yourself ready for advancement.

Two qualities that will help you advance in your career are initiative and the desire to learn. The willingness to take on new tasks and levels of responsibility shows initiative (i-,ni-sha-tiv). Initiative is the energy required to begin new tasks and see them through to completion. Workers with initiative do not wait to be told by their employers what to do next. They seek ways to improve their on-the-job performance.

The desire to learn is also important. Continue your education or training through formal classes, workshops, or independent study. Be excited about the opportunity to learn and practice new workplace skills.

Employer Responsibilities

The employer-employee relationship goes both ways. Your employer has responsibilities to you, too. Your employer's main responsibility is to make sure that you are paid fairly for the work that you do. Your employer is also responsible to:

• Supply what you need to do your job.

• Provide you with safe working conditions.

• Make sure that you are treated fairly. Your employer will outline, or describe in a basic way, what your job responsibilities and expectations are. You also may be offered on-the-job training. If you have any questions about your job duties, ask your supervisor.

Safe Working Conditions

Federal, state, and local regulations require your employer to provide you with safe working conditions. Your employer must:

• Eliminate any known health and safety hazards in the workplace.

• Provide you with the equipment and materials that are necessary for you to do your job safely.

• Let you know when job conditions or hazardous materials create a danger to your health and safety.

• Keep accurate records of job-related illnesses and injuries.

• Comply with environmental protection policies to safely dispose of waste materials.

Workers' Compensation

If you are injured on the job and cannot work, your employer has a legal responsibility to provide financial help. Workers' compensation is insurance that pays for medical expenses and lost wages if you are injured on the job. Your employer is required to pay for this insurance.

Preventing injuries is another important responsibility for your employer. For example, employers have supported research into common workplace injuries. One of these injuries is a repetitive stress injury, which can happen to employees who must perform the same motions over and over. Repetitive stress injuries can potentially disable an employee. Your employer should periodically evaluate the workplace to make sure that it is as safe as possible from injury. Some employers also offer information and classes on avoiding injury in the workplace.

Fair Labor Practices

Your employer has a legal responsibility to protect you from unfair treatment on the job. The federal government has passed laws to protect workers. U.S. labor laws are meant to protect the following rights of employees as they work at their jobs:

• To have an equal opportunity to find and keep employment, regardless of age, gender, race, ethnicity, religion, physical appearance, disability, or other factors.

• To be considered fairly for promotion, based on your skills and past performance.

• To be protected in times of personal and economic change.

Employers must pay their employees at least the federal minimum wage. The minimum wage is the lowest hourly amount a worker can earn. Some states have their own minimum wages. An employer must pay employees whichever minimum wage rate is higher. Some businesses pay employees a higher minimum wage than the federal government requires. Employers must compensate employees who work overtime with extra pay or time off. Paid time off to reimburse workers for overtime is called compensatory time.

American workers are guaranteed the right to join a labor union. A labor union is an organization of workers in a similar field, or line of work. Labor unions act as the voice of their members in collective bargaining. Collective bargaining includes negotiating safe working conditions, employment contracts, and other job benefits. About 15% of American workers belong to labor unions.

Employers must also protect their employees from discrimination in the workplace. Discrimination is unfair treatment based on age, gender, race, ethnicity, religion, physical appearance, disability, or other factors. For example, sexual harassment, or any unwelcome behavior of a sexual nature, is forbidden in the workplace. If you think that you have been a victim of discrimination, report the incident to your supervisor immediately so that he or she can take action.

Performance Evaluations

Your employer must provide you with feedback on your job performance. Some employers consider the first few months of your time working on a new job to be an employee probation (pro-'ba-shsn) period. Probation is a short period of time when you first start work that gives your employer a chance to monitor your job performance closely. Your employer will use your probation time to confirm that you can do the job. Most probation periods last for three months.


You also enter into a relationship with your coworkers when you take a job. Many workplaces focus only on individual skills. Foodservice workplaces also focus on working as a team. Every worker is an individual, with his or her own personality traits, strengths, and weaknesses. To bring individuals together to create an effective team, each employee must practice good teamwork skills.

Keep a positive attitude. An upbeat, positive outlook contributes to the team spirit of the group. Complaining can bring down the attitude of the whole team and affect your job performance.

Respect yourself and others while on the job. You demonstrate self-respect when you accept responsibility for your actions, learn from your mistakes, and take care of your appearance. Being disrespectful can result in being fired from your job. Learn to practice empathy ('em-ps-the) to better understand your coworkers. Empathy is the skill of thinking about what it would be like in another's place.

Resolve Conflicts

No matter how well you and your coworkers get along, you will not always agree. Disputes and conflicts are an inevitable part of being part of a team. While conflict can be unpleasant, you can learn something from the process of working to resolve conflicts respectfully. There must be give and take. Learn to negotiate.

You may find that there are some conflicts that cannot be resolved. Remember to focus on the problem. Do not focus on the personalities involved. Try to concentrate on performing your work to the best of your ability. If you are unable to work because of a conflict, discuss the issue with a manager. A manager may have a different view of the situation.

^^ Workplace Diversity Your coworkers may have different backgrounds and opinions. How can you demonstrate positive interpersonal skills with coworkers?

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