Working in the service industry often means relying on tips to supplement your income. Tipping plays a significant role in the compensation of many service industry workers. The National Employment Law Project reports that over 4 million people in the United States work in occupations where tips comprise the bulk of their income.
But what happens when your employer asks you to share those tips with other employees? Can they require this of you, and if so, under what circumstances?
What is tip pooling or sharing?
Tip pooling or sharing involves collecting all or a portion of service employees’ tips into a common pool, which then gets distributed among a group of employees. This practice is not uncommon in restaurants, where, for example, servers might share their tips with bartenders or busboys. The primary goal of such arrangements is to ensure that all employees in the service chain receive fair compensation for their role in customer service.
What is the Fair Labor Standards Act?
Florida adheres to the guidelines of the Fair Labor Standards Act, a federal law that sets the rules for tip pooling. According to the FLSA, your employer can require you to participate in a tip pool or share your tips with other employees. However, there are restrictions.
First, only employees who regularly receive tips can be part of the tip pool. This means that employers cannot include back-of-house employees, such as cooks or dishwashers, in the pool. On the other hand, front-of-house staff, like servers, bussers and bartenders, often share in the pooled tips.
Second, your employer cannot retain any portion of the tips for themselves. All pooled tips must go back to the employees.
Earn at least the minimum wage
While tip pooling can affect the amount you take home at the end of the shift, Florida law requires that you still earn at least the state’s minimum wage when combining your hourly wage and tips. If your combined earnings fall below the minimum wage, your employer must make up the difference.
Tip sharing or pooling is a common practice in many service industry workplaces. By understanding your rights regarding tip sharing, you can ensure you receive the compensation you deserve while contributing to a collaborative and fair work environment.