legally can you make employees pay for messed up pizzas

I was wondering if anyone has any rules in their store on what the consequences are for messing up pizza after after pizza or burning them by not setting a timer. Sometimes during a busy Friday or Sat the employees are messing up pizzas, either making them wrong or not setting timers for deep dishes and burning them. Could I legally make them pay me the 30% food cost for the mess up. I understand a mess up once in awhile but 5 or more in a night. What do any of you do?
Thanks, Kel

You can not make them pay but you sure can fire them!

I wouldn’t continue to employ someone who screwed up 5 pizzas every night. If it happened once, I’d let them chalk it up to a bad day. We all have them. If someones screwing that many up every night, they are just not meant to be in the pizza business.

What good does it do you to make them pay for it?

YOU are still paying for the horrible service these mistakes result in.

I don’t think you can make them pay but like the other posters what good would it do? But consider the following options:

Employees are not allowed to eat mistakes
Keep a visible log of mistakes by the month (something about having a list with a big red mark on it while your co workers do not)
Instead of charging for mistakes…reward for no mistakes over a certain time period
Evaluate WHY they are having so many mistakes, are you short handed, are they trained properly on procedure so much so that it is automatic on a busy friday?
Write a chronic employee up after 3 write ups fire em.

I think it is a training issue. We can all do a good job when things are slow but a good trained employee excels during the busiest rush.


I understand that it can be frustrating, is frustrating, to work with pizza crew… The work does not attract the highest skill level in the market. the kind of people who cook in our kitchens are either young and innexperienced or on the lower end of the skill set scale. The work is easy, uncomplicated and does not require a lot of attention… but for it to work there does have to be consistancy in how things are done.

Here is another way to look at things: If your crew is messing up pizzas, the fault is yours. As an owner, YOU provide the training, You create the systems, YOU set the standards. If YOU don’t like the results, YOU have some work to do.

but… to answer your question: No. You can not charge them for the pizzas they mess up.

I am with Bodega man on this one. My first step is to evaluate my processes, training and supervision. If those are right, then there is a personnel issue. My first hought is always to my consistency in expectations. Set up a coaching session with the “offending crew member” and do some direct communication about expectations, and processes. Get his inut about what is the hurdle (Kris had a great one there) and set concrete goals for the next 4 weeks, then set longer term goals and expectations.

Supervision is the second point of attention . . .mine as well as the shift leaders.

Goals and consequences (both good and bad) keep the focus on the ball . . . consistently correct and excellent food product.

If you have an “eat the mess ups” type of philosophy in house…then it may not be so much of a training issue versus employees wanting to eat there, but not pay for it.

So I wholeheartedly agree…axe the eating of the messups…and anyone caught eating a messup would then have to pay…because then they become a customer, would they not?

But anyway, like at my place…they mess up a LOT, unless I am there…the drivers hate me because they don’t get a free meal (well, they hate my accuracy haha), and I’ve heard them ask someone to make a mistake when I’m there.

I tell them…it’s not my job to feed drivers, it’s my job to feed customers…

Of course you cannot make them pay for it. Offer the make crew a free pizza for any shift where they make no mistakes and orders do not fall behind. Worked for me. Find ways for them to take pride in their work.

(And if someone keeps making mistakes, you have the sad duty to let them go for incompetence. This is the only time I hate having to let someone go.)

well, thank goodness we have a conveyor…eliminates many mistakes…

plus, our management style is, the manager is on-line, topping pies or working the cut table…if its not the mgr, then it is the closing shift leader…no rookies make or slap a pie…

Employees can only be made to pay for losses if by doing so, it does not cause their net pay to be below minimum wage:

Fact Sheet #16: Deductions From Wages for Uniforms and Other Facilities Under the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA)

Other Items: Employers at times require employees to pay or reimburse the employer for other items. The cost of any items which are considered primarily for the benefit or convenience of the employer would have the same restrictions as apply to reimbursement for uniforms. In other words, no deduction may be made from an employee’s wages which would reduce the employee’s earnings below the required minimum wage or overtime compensation.

Some examples of items which would be considered to be for the benefit or convenience of the employer are tools used in the employee’s work, damages to the employer’s property by the employee or any other individuals, financial losses due to clients/customers not paying bills, and theft of the employer’s property by the employee or other individuals. Employees may not be required to pay for any of the cost of such items if, by so doing, their wages would be reduced below the required minimum wage or overtime compensation. This is true even if an economic loss suffered by the employer is due to the employee’s negligence.

Employers may not avoid FLSA minimum wage and overtime requirements by having the employee reimburse the employer in cash for the cost of such items in lieu of deducting the cost from the employee’s wages.

Typical Problems

(1) A minimum wage employee working as a cashier is illegally required to reimburse the employer for a cash drawer shortage. (2) An employer improperly requires tipped employees to pay for customers who walk out without paying their bills or for incorrectly totaled bills. (3) An employer furnishes elaborate uniforms to employees and makes them responsible for having the uniforms cleaned. (4) An employee driving the employer’s vehicle causes a wreck, and the employer holds the employee responsible for the repairs, thereby reducing the employee’s wages below the minimum wage. (5) A security guard is required to purchase a gun for the job, and the cost causes him/her to not earn the minimum wage. (6) The cost of an employer-required physical examination cuts into an employee’s minimum wage or overtime compensation.

Anyone else out there getting really, really steamed about the pending additional minimum wage hike looming over us for this summer. Not to mention whatever gets dropped on us in the coming administration. While I do not have a policy of charging food error damages against a paycheck . . . I do intend to inventory workstations and provided equipment when employees are terminated/resign.

Bottom line in my small piece of the world continues to be that of treating your staff with professional dignity. Do not nickel and dime them for stuff. Set expectations of the job, pay a fair market wage, and regularly review performance and expectations. Reward excellence, and dismiss defiance and/or incompetance.

let them go or just have them deliver… i would do that

I am not concerned about the minimum wage hike. Everybody in our store makes quite a bit more than minimum.

With regard to unreasonable food waste, shortages, other destruction that is not ordinary restaurant chaos… it comes out of bonuses. Dollar for Dollar. We have between 4-6 employees in the bonus pool at any given time and pay between 8-15K in bonuses per year. (all bonused employees are making at least $12 hour anyway) When we have shortages of $50 in a month for example, the bonus is $50 smaller.

bodegahwy, who is in the bonus pool?


People responsible for either opening or closing. Employees with the responsible for food buying, hiring, scheduling, training, supervising, product quality… cash control… etc etc.