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Can your employer make you use a tip pool?

Many employees make the bulk of their wages from tips. They are supposed to be paid at least minimum wage, but they could easily make more than that in tips every hour – on top of their standard wages. 

As a result, employees are often very protective of their tips. But your employer may want you to use a tip pool, which would require you to share those tips with your fellow employees. Employers often see this as a benefit because it allows employees to be more flexible with which guests they serve. But can your employer make you do this if you want to keep the tips that are directly given to you?

Tip pools are legal

As much as some employees do not like this, tip pooling is not illegal. It can be done, and your employer can require it.

There are two major stipulations, however. The first is that you have to know about the tip pool in advance. You need to be informed about how the money is going to be divided before you work for those tips. Your employer cannot come to you after the fact and demand that you divide tips you were previously allowed to keep.

Secondly, only tipped employees are allowed to be included in this pool. The manager cannot be included. The owner of the company cannot be included. In a bar or restaurant, only the waitstaff and perhaps other kitchen staff can be part of the pool. This is to prevent employers from using a tip pool simply as a way to take tips from their own employees.

Do you believe that your employer may have violated your rights in some way, perhaps by setting up an illegal tip pool or taking the tips for themself? If so, you need to know exactly what legal options you have.

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