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Restaurants

Panera Bread to start recording employees making food

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Panera will be watching employees very closely. (AP Photo)

Is Big Brother getting bigger in the restaurant business?

Panera Bread has announced that it will start recording its employees as they assemble meals behind the counter.

The fast-casual chain will begin testing a program “for a set period of time” that will allow restaurant managers, company "higher-ups" and executives to view the recordings and see if food is being correctly prepared, according to the Louisville Business Journal. Blaine Hurst, Panera’s executive vice president, wouldn't disclose which market they were testing, but compared the program to a sports coach reviewing game footage with a team. 

The new surveillance is part of the restaurant group’s push to improve order accuracy, speed and customer satisfaction.

State privacy laws varying on the use of video cameras in the the workplace. But when employers use them to monitor employees, they must have a legitimate business reason and most mandates focus on limiting surveillance in restroom and break rooms. 

In another technology related move, the company last year started rolling out kiosk stations-- instead of live cashiers-- where customers can input their own orders in an effort to crack down on "human-related" error. The change has resulted in one to two fewer cashiers working the Panera counters-- but those workers are now able to bring customers' food to the table faster, the chain says.