Workers’ Compensation in the Restaurant Industry


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The restaurant industry employs nearly 13 million people which make up about 10% of the entire United States workforce. Restaurants are currently one of the largest private-sector employers in the country. The restaurant industry is also one of the largest sectors of work where employees are injured. There are many risks associated with owning, managing and working in the restaurant industry.

Some of the most common injuries occurring in restaurants include slips, trips, falls, burns, lacerations, contact with chemicals and various sprains and strains. Kitchen equipment in particular poses significant risks for all employees. Whether you work in the kitchen as a cook or dishwasher, or are a front-of-house employee like a waiter or hostess, anyone that performs work, or enters the kitchen is susceptible to injuries. If the injury isn’t caused by a slip, trip and fall, cut or burn, the majority of restaurant injuries are from employees performing work outside of their job description. For example, a waiter who puts the French fries in the fryer, or a hostess who decides to run the dishwasher. The bottom line is that while it’s great to be a team player, it’s safest to only perform duties within an employee’s job description.

Injuries in a restaurant are expensive and harmful for both the employee and the employer. Absenteeism from work and restricted job duties are some of the setbacks associated with workplace injuries. It can be damaging for the restaurant’s image if it is known that an employee was injured on the job and did not receive workers’ compensation benefits. This can cause other employees to become disgruntled with management, in turn causing a higher turnover in the restaurant.

Requirements for a business to carry workers’ compensation insurance vary from state to state, as does the cost of purchasing insurance. Some states do not require a business to carry worker’s compensation insurance, but for others it is mandatory. In some states, the requirement is based on the number of employees. Because of the frequency of restaurant-related injuries, employers may choose to purchase the insurance policy regardless of state requirements. Virginia does require a restaurant, or any business that has 3 or more employees, to carry workers’ compensation insurance to cover work-related injuries.

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