Scoot:  Should servers be allowed to keep their tips?

December 06, 2017 - 11:06 am

Should tipped service industry employees be allowed to keep their tips; or should a manager collect all the tips and distribute them among servers and “back-of-the-house” employees, like cooks and dishwashers?

The Trump Administration has announced plans to have the Labor Department change the current law, which was an initiative from the Obama Administration, to allow the management of an establishment to collect ALL tips and distribute the them based on their determination of who should share in the tip pool.  The end result would allow some of the tip money to flow back to cooks, dishwashers and those who work in the back of a restaurant.  Is that a good plan?

The Trump Administration and advocates for the plan argue that this is a good way to increase wages for cooks and dishwashers.  But one of the potential problems is the idea that a manager could keep some of the tip pool to pad the revenue of the restaurant or bar – not to mention their own pockets.

The National Restaurant Association is applauding the Trump Administration’s plan.  The group filed suit against the Obama Administration on the grounds that the regulation was illegal.  A federal court upheld the rule and the Supreme Court is considering hearing the case.

In Louisiana, as well as many other states, the cooks, dishwashers and workers in the back of a restaurant earn at least minimum wage, while servers are paid a fraction of the minimum wage with the understanding that tips will make up the difference.

Under Trump’s plan to distribute tips, management benefits and so do the untipped employees; but the servers would conceivably end each shift with less money.  What is fair?

I worked very briefly in the service industry, and I know what a tough job is it to be a server.  I also know how difficult it can be have a steady flow of income through working different shifts.  It seems that this new plan is designed to satisfy the minimum wage employees in the back of restaurants at the expense of the servers who work to provide service that is worthy of a good tip.

If servers in restaurants and bars bust their a**es to generate good tips only to have their tips go into a tip pool to be distributed at the discretion of management, then who would want to be a server?

And the opportunity for the theft of tip money on the part of the managers each day would be a temptation many could not resist.

We can have another discussion about the custom of tipping; but with that custom being part of our economy, the question is whether you support all the tip money going into a pool and shared - or servers being allowed to keep their tips?

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