You’ve decided to open a business in New York, and you want your workers to use a tip pool. Perhaps you like the idea of combining all of the tips because it means that the waitstaff isn’t confined to certain tables or certain parts of the building. Everyone who is on staff can simply help any patron who needs it, and this provides better service. The tip pool just helps you distribute the tips evenly at the end of the night.
You already know that workers are allowed to use tip pools if they voluntarily agree to do so. But can you make it a requirement of employment? Can you tell them that they have no choice but to use a tip pool if they want to work for you, or would that be violating their rights?
Tip pools can be required
First and foremost, yes, you are allowed to use tip pools under New York law. It states that you can require your workers – as long as you’re in the food service industry – to use a tip pool and take their allotted percentage of those tips. If you do require this, they can’t refuse to join or keep their tips for themselves. You’re not violating their rights by making this requirement, as long as they know about it in advance.
It’s also very important to know that you yourself cannot be included in the tip pool. Only food service workers and those who are directly receiving tips can be included. Managers and company owners do not count. If the tip pool is being distributed incorrectly, such as cutting in workers or individuals who should not have been earning tips, then it may be illegal. You must make sure to do it properly if you’re going to require it.
Are you in a dispute?
Whether you’re setting your business up or trying to resolve a dispute with your employees, it’s very important that you understand exactly what options you have. It could be that the very future of your business hangs in the balance.