The restaurant industry is especially vulnerable to ethical breaches partly due to the fact that it is such a cut-throat area. Competition is high and this sometimes results in restaurant owners taking shortcuts to get ahead. Unfortunately, some of these practices are ethically questionable and leave employees in a position where they may be financially and legally compromised.
It is also an industry that employs huge numbers of immigrants, and this is of concern because they are a vulnerable group. Language barriers and economic circumstances often prevent them from reporting any unethical behavior and this leads to a scenario in which restaurants are operating outside of the law. This is why it’s so important to have a solid whistle-blower policy and implementation to go with it.
So, what things should be included in a whistle-blower policy for a restaurant?
- Who’s responsible?
When unethical behavior and practices are discovered by an employee, it’s important for them to understand who is responsible for investigating it. Some employees may feel pressure to investigate, but this should never be the case.
A good whistle-blower policy should define who is responsible for investigating unethical behavior and practices. It should certainly outline that the whistle-blower themselves is not responsible.
- Is it anonymous?
The policy should also outline what the reporting process is in detail. Who should the employee contact when they want to report fraudulent or unethical behavior or activity?
In this context, anonymity is also crucial. In fact, employees who are protected by the cloak of anonymity are more likely to report unethical activity and behavior. The whistle-blower policy should outline that any reporting is treated confidentially, securely, and anonymously.
In the restaurant industry, low-paid and immigrant workers are in a position of vulnerability to their employers. They need to feel safe and assured that any report they make will be treated with the utmost respect and that they will be protected from retaliation by their employer and other staff. In cases like this, it may be wise to utilize the services of a third party when it comes to reporting so as to preserve anonymity and confidentiality.
- Core values
Every workplace should have a code of conduct in place. This should consist of what standard of behavior is expected and the mission statement of the business in question. From these core values, all behavior can be judged and assigned a value.
The core values should also be included as part of any whistle-blower policy in order to reinforce them. Every employee should be aware of them and every employee should be aware of the policies around reporting and why it’s so important.
Keep it simple
When a business has a solid reporting strategy in place and everyone is on the same page, a positive workplace culture can be nurtured. It’s also important to keep the policies simple and readable so that everyone can understand them. This helps to reduce risk and ensure that everyone understands what is expected of them and why.