Out of time on overtime

Noncommercial operators deal with the aftermath of a wage law in purgatory.

overtime payroll timesheet

Just eight days before Dec. 1, when operators would have to comply with the U.S. Department of Labor’s new overtime rules, a federal judge in Texas slapped an injunction on the regulation. The move indefinitely halted the rules that would have doubled the overtime threshold to $47,476, affecting nearly 4.2 million workers, according to the DOL. For some operators, the move was too little, too late. Now, they have to answer to employees who had been briefed on promised wage increases.

Kansas Memorial Union at the University of Kansas in Lawrence made changes ahead of the deadline and decided not to reverse course after the ruling. “Once the toothpaste is out of the tube, you can’t put it back in,” says Mark Petrino, KU’s director of dining. The rules affected 31 salaried staff members at a significant cost to the operations’ labor line, says Petrino. Dining gave eight people raises based on job duties, and converted the rest to hourlies, which would make them exempt. “Luckily, we have money in reserve for unforeseen matters,” he says. “Plus, we were aware of this last year during budget time, so we earmarked money just for this possibility.”

Only three members of the dining services team at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign would have been affected by the law. The dining team had already met with each worker to discuss updating their salary, and decided to move forward with the plan. “We told each individual that we value them and recognize their contribution; as a result, they were increased,” says Dawn Aubrey, associate director of housing for dining services. “It was viewed as a promise that we would keep.”

Some operations are waiting on HR departments to give them the green light, funneling all worker communication about the matter through them. Only two hospitality services employees at North Carolina State University in Raleigh, N.C., fell under the scope of the law, because the department took steps to reign in overtime after a different regulation passed in 2010. “We control overtime pretty closely already,” says Randy Lait, senior director of hospitality services. “We had more of a strategic change in scheduling in response to the Affordable Care Act, which resulted in us scheduling 30 hours or less for many employees.”

More From FoodService Director

Ideas and Innovation
employees generation multicultural

We are no longer short staffed, ever. On a given day, missing two team members from a team of 50 would leave us 96% staffed. The actual choice of wording places a positive emphasis on those that did come to serve our guests and patients. We no longer use the phrase “short staffed”; this is a game-changer when we are challenging ourselves as culture facilitators or leaders.

Ideas and Innovation
food symbols allergens

To make safe food as accessible as possible for our guests with allergies, we are creating an allergen-friendly kitchen this summer. Students and community members will be able to use our mobile app to place orders for allergen-friendly food and pick them up at the central kitchen. The kitchen will also produce grab-and-go options that will be distributed across campus.

Ideas and Innovation
amazon prime delivery

About 90% of our students receive financial assistance and participate in our free and reduced-price meal program. But a number of students in our district study remotely due to circumstances such as chronic illness. In January, we hired a driver to deliver meals to students who aren’t able to step into our cafeteria each day.

Ideas and Innovation
construction plans drawing tools calculator

When revamping an old cafeteria or building a new retail spot, the design process can feel like fitting together the pieces of a puzzle: What needs to fit in the space, and what’s the most efficient flow for staffers, cooks, diners and more?

Cathy Estes, administrative director of nutrition services at four northern Indiana hospitals that are part of the Franciscan Health network, faced the creation of a new in-house dining program at Franciscan’s Munster hospital. Amid all the big plans, design was one of the largest undertakings.

“I was looking at 5,000 square feet on a...

FSD Resources