When frustrated Waffle House employees took their 13000 signed petitions to the Norcross, Georgia headquarters, there were three specific issues they were focused on. While higher wages and security in stores made sense, it was the last topic that raised eyebrows: Waffle House automatically deducts between $3 and $4 daily from each employee for meals, regardless if they've eaten Waffle House's food. This was also a leading reason for Waffle House workers going on strike in July 2023.
On a Reddit thread, three alleged employees debated about whether you could opt out of the charge. One claimed that in Tennessee, you could contact the corporate office to decline it, while another swore that it wasn't an option. A third asserted that "Tennessee stores started as franchise stores and their rules are different. For Corporate stores, it clearly states that the meal credit is a condition of employment and non-negotiable."
Restaurant employees getting a free meal or paying some kind of discount is a fairly common policy, but Waffle House's mandatory charge is pretty extreme. Cindy Smith, who has worked for the company for 29 years, told Today that the policy has been in effect ever since she started, but that it used to be $1.50 per shift. She said that, without telling the employees, the charge slowly started getting higher. "Every day that you work now, it is $3.75 that comes out of your check. That's more than I make an hour," she said.
Many Employees Say They Don't Eat The Food
While many Waffle House customers would probably be thinking to themselves that a charge of around $3 a day is awesome when you take into account that a Chicken Melt Hashbrown Bowl is over $9, and an All-Star Special is over $10, it's important to remember that, as with everything, there are stipulations and limits. An employee from Macon, Georgia, wrote on Glassdoor that "You can eat everything except for major meats, no juices, or chocolate milk," but you could pay extra if you want something that's not allowed. (It is unclear whether the alleged restrictions currently apply or if all locations implemented them.)
Along with the difficulty many restaurant employees have with actually finding time to take a break, the most irritating-sounding aspect of the mandatory meal rule is that, after working at a restaurant for years, many employees just don't want to eat the food anymore. About "85 to 95% of us don't even eat the Waffle House food," Cindy Smith said. We're still having to pay for it."
Read the original article on Mashed.