UnderCover Waitress: Restaurant Policy Changes

Monday, June 10, 2013

Restaurant Policy Changes

Ask the Waitress!

This comment was left on Understanding Tip Pools, Tip Credits and Tip Outs:

The restaurant I wait tables in is changing policy on paying out credit card tip's from the next day to only getting them on our paycheck, a bummer for sure but that's life. Now they are also going to start automatically taking out the tip's we usually hand pay to the busers, bartender etc... Let me first state that I am in no way trying to not tip out on what I make but I am concerned that I have no control over how much they are going to take out of my tip's to tip out. I'm wondering if this is legal

I believe it is legal as long as the following happens:

1 -- They inform you of the change in pay policy before it takes place. The policy may not go into effect for any shift you worked before you were informed of the change. After you are informed, your continued employment constitutes agreement with the new policy. (In other words, if you don't like the new policy you have the option of quitting before it affects your paycheck)

2 -- You are informed of the percentage or amount of money that will be held to pay others, such as bussers and bartenders. In other words, they cannot say, "Oh, we decided to pay everyone 15 percent instead of 10 percent for that shift."

3 -- You are paid the full amount owed to you via your paycheck. That means hourly wage, plus tips, minus tip outs and minus taxes. Your paycheck stub should indicate your gross pay and the deductions your employer has made. If you do not understand your paycheck stub, please ask a manager to explain it to you.

4 -- As always, you have to make a total of minimum wage after tips outs. If your hourly wage plus tips do not average out to at least minimum wage, the restaurant owes you money.

5 -- I assume they are asking you claim your cash tips. (?)

And, once again, you all know that I am not a lawyer,
I'm just a stupid waitress. ;-)
I do not give legal advice, but I do try to help.

Thanks for asking the waitress! 


  1. Thanks so much for responding so quickly, I need a bit of clarification I'm concerned because they are going to automatically take out tip's for support staff based on my food/alcohol sales. In a perfect world where customers tip 15% (for good service of corse) no problem, if I get stiffed or under tipped I'm loosing $

    1. Lots of restaurants figure tip outs as a percentage of sales, not actual tips. That is one reason why I recommend reading your paycheck stubs. And yes, if a customer stiffs you, you will lose more money because tip outs are based upon sales.

      As long as you are still earning at least the full minimum wage (hourly wage plus tips) I believe it is legal.

  2. I would look into your state laws. Where I live, it is against the law to force a server to tip out a certain amount. They can give you guidelines, and that's it. I would certainly have a problem with this new policy. If I'm working with a busser or bartender that isn't pulling their weight, they don't get tipped out the full percentage, and that's that.

    1. Will do thanks so much for your input, it's sad because I used to love where I work and there are still a lot of things I love about the place but when you start messing with the money part the honeymoon's over.

    2. Hi, you said:

      "Where I live, it is against the law to force a server to tip out a certain amount."

      Would you mind telling me where you live? Most states do allow restaurant owners and managers to mandate how legitimate tip pooling arrangements work. Feel free to respond privately if you prefer, thanks.

  3. I'm in California

  4. Your advice sounds reasonable to me, though I'm outside the industry, of course.

    1. Thanks, William, always nice to hear from you. :-) I'm away at the moment, but it is my intention to research some specific state laws regarding tip outs when I return.


Please share your thoughts.