Changing employee job duties

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If you have an employee that has been with you almost 30 years but has personal problems, is it OK to change his job duties if you increase his pay?

– Buddy Sherman, Owner, Southport Raw Bar, Fort Lauderdale, Florida


Unless you have an employee on a contract or a collective bargaining agreement, both relatively rare in restaurants, you have a lot of latitude to change job descriptions and duties to better run your business, even without a change in compensation. This is an area where the maxim, “Any reason but not the wrong reason,” comes into play. That is, you can decide that you have a strong business case, for example, to require that bussers also maintain the beverage service station and adjust job descriptions accordingly. You cannot, however, make the change because of an employee’s age, gender, disability, race, nationality or other protected class; in retaliation for the employee raising a complaint; or while the employee is on FMLA, to list some common pitfalls.

Any change to job duties should be related to your business needs, not the individual employee. If your employee is struggling, that invites a separate conversation about performance.

As usual, the best solution is to be clear about your expectations. As always, consult with your restaurant association and attorney as local regulations vary. 

More on changing employee job descriptions here