Can you schedule servers for cleaning shifts?

clean restaurant floor


My employer wants me to come in on my day off to scrub the whole iron fence around the patio and the iron tables and chairs, and clean lights and ceiling fans. Is this legal?

– Jessica, Server, Front Page News, Atlanta


In this column, we have previously addressed an employer’s prerogative in scheduling employees and any restrictions or limitations on those abilities.

Your question is a bit different in that not only are you being asked to work a different schedule than usual, but to do duties that are not a typical part of your job. In Georgia, for most employees who are not represented by a union and are not under contract, the rules of an at-will state apply—your employer can ask you to work when he or she wants you to, doing what he or she wants you to do (as long as it’s legal), provided you are being paid in accordance with the applicable wage and hour laws. For example, your employer would not be able to take the tip credit for these hours; and, if you are full time, this extra day would need to be overtime pay. In a job description, this would likely be “other duties as assigned.” The assumption in an at-will state is that there is nothing compelling you to work there—if you don’t want to do the work, you can seek employment elsewhere. Tough, but true.

Still, if you are surprised and unhappy about the request, your employer can do a better job to manage these expectations with a clear job description (including the cleaning) and a regular schedule so that the request does not come as an unpleasant day off-ruining surprise. This will certainly help with morale and retaining talent.

As always, check with your local restaurant association and attorney as regulations vary.

More on job descriptions here

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