Video: 10 tips you can implement today to protect your revenue from employee meal theft and abuse

Did you know that more than 50% of all QSR employees eat for free, regardless of restaurant policy?

And, up to 40% of employee meal discounts are fraudulent? That means you could be losing more than $300 a month from employee meal fraud!

Stop giving away free meals and give your revenue a bump. Watch this OpsWise video for 10 tips and procedures you can implement today to reduce employee meal theft and abuse.

  • Download now


Are members of your QSR team taking advantage of your brand’s employee meal policy? Nationwide studies suggest that they probably are. In fact, more than half of all employees eat for free, regardless of restaurant policy. And, up to 40% of employee meal discounts are fraudulent.

Review Your Employee Meal Policy with These 10 Tips

Now is the perfect time to review your employee meal policy and procedures to make sure fraudulent activity isn’t cutting into your revenue. Here are 10 tips and procedures that you can implement today to reduce employee meal theft and abuse:

1. Establish a threshold or budget for employee meals.

Without a proper range, you could end up easily overspending on free meals for employees. A range between .75% to 1.25% of sales is a best practice in the restaurant industry.

2. Define your employee meal policy in writing.

Post the policy for employees to reference, include it in your employee handbook, and review it from time-to-time to keep it up-to-date. If your employees aren’t well-aware of the policy, it’s easier for them to justify stretching the limits!

3. Ring up employee or manager meals in the POS prior to eating.

Preferably, ring up meals on a front counter register and file the receipt documentation with the cashier’s paperwork. By keeping track of every free meal, not only are you better managing your inventory, but you’re limiting the amount of meals your employees would take.

4. Don’t allow employees to make their own food.

This includes above-store-leaders and restaurant managers. Having one of your trained cooks make the food for them not only forces accountability by another employee, but it also keeps your kitchen properly staffed.

5. When you’re training on a new menu item, team members can practice by making their own food.

This is the one exception to the aforementioned rule. When this happens, make sure everything that your employees eat is accounted for in the POS.

6. Set limits for your employee meal policy.

These limits can include:

  • Having team members become eligible for a meal discount after a certain number of hours worked.
  • Setting a maximum amount that is allowed for managers, employees, and off-duty employees.
  • And determining if employees can purchase from the entire menu at a discounted rate or if premium items aren’t included.

7. Allow only the manager-in-charge to approve manager and employee meal discounts.

Be sure they collect and follow up on documentation, too. Again, this is just another form of accountability. By keeping track of every free meal, you’re properly managing inventory and your employees.

8. Use manager and employee meal discounts only for on-duty employees.

Some employees will justify giving a free meal to an off-duty employee, or some student employees might spend time studying in the restaurant and taking advantage of free meals when they’re not working.

9. Employee discounts should only be used for employees.

Employee discounts should not be used to feed friends and family, account for food waste or production mistakes, or to cover up theft.

10. Use a web-based solution to keep discounting in check.

Solutions like Delaget Guard help monitor employee results, behaviors, and trends. By keeping a close eye on the data, you’re taking the right steps toward eliminating employee theft.

There you have it! 10 things to consider as you review your restaurant’s employee meal policy and procedures. For more on how you can review discounting trends – and other theft indicators – in just minutes a day, go to

Reach business goals with Delaget Coach

Time is the most precious thing you have. Make sure you’re not spending it hunting down spreadsheets.