Empire State clamps down on restaurant tipping practices
As the tipping debate rages on in Toronto—with skirmishes breaking out around who’s entitled to them and whether or not they should be mandatory—the Yanks have actually gone and done something about it. New tipping regulations came into effect in New York State on Saturday, which, in theory, should clarify how tips should be handled among restaurant and hotel workers.
The new rules provide restaurant owners with some leeway on how their tip system is run, the New York Times reports. The money could be pooled, say, and divided up as necessary (bartenders, food runners, bussers and anyone who deals with customers are in, managers and kitchen staff are out), or individual servers could collect tips and dole them out to the team. The regulations also boost minimum wage for tipped employees and allow for enforcement should establishments fail to comply:
The Labor Department will require that employers keep records of tip pools and shares; the records could be examined during investigations undertaken by the department on its own or in response to complaints.
The department can compel a restaurant to pay money owed to employees going back six years. In addition, failure to comply with the rules can make a restaurant vulnerable to a lawsuit, something restaurateurs are especially wary of these days, given how aggressively some lawyers and workers’ advocates are pursuing cases.
Tipping issues have come up before Queen’s Park a few times already, which makes us wonder whether New York’s system could bring peace to Toronto dining rooms.
• New Rules Impose Systems for Sharing of Tips [New York Times]
15 thoughts on “Empire State clamps down on restaurant tipping practices”
Way to screw over the kitchen staff even more.
I agree. The work of the kitchen plays a huge part in the happiness of the customer and diners DO base their tip in part on the quality of what is on their plate. To exclude them from the tipping to me belittles their contribution.
I agree, when I go to a restaurant my tip percentage always factors in the quality of the food. Service is just one aspect of the dining out experience.
I have been under the impression that the kitchen staff in general and the chef in particular are already better paid than the wait staff, and if so (in my opinion) do not need to be included under the current “system”.
“Quebec and Ontario allow employers to pay lower minimum wages to workers who would reasonably be expected to be receiving tips. In Ontario, the minimum wage is $10.25 per hour, with exceptions for students under 18 years old and employed for not more than 28 hours a week, who are paid $9.60 per hour; and both liquor and restaurant servers, who are paid $8.90 per hour.”
If the kitchen staff is viewed as having a reasonable expectation (but there is no guarantee) of receiving tips, the next step could well be an attempt to lower their wages too.
I am curious if you “quality of food” tippers tip at places like cafeterias, take out counters, Tim Horton’s, etc. At these places they may both serve you and prepare your food. They are most likely making less than minimum wage as well, however the quality of the food is usually not something that is really under their control half the time.
Did any of you read the UPGRADE to the NY minimum wage!!!
Servers now get $5 an hour!!! WOW!!! At 40 hours per week working 52 weeks a year they earn $10400!!! Maybe we should force emplyoers to pay a living wage and do away with tipping!!! No-one could support themselves on that kind of money, especially in NYC.
Kitchen staff should always get a % of tips. These kids bust their butts 10-12 hours a day and send out well presented and delicious plates one after the other for peanuts in return.
Kitchen staff should get a portion of the tips, I agree, but they do tend to get more per hour than wait staff. When you take wait staff’s below-minimum-wage hourly rate and divide their share of the tips (after all the various tip-outs) over the # of hours worked, it often comes to little more than what the kitchen staff make. At least in the places I’ve worked at.
The practice some restaurants have of forcing wait staff to give a portion of their tips (projected from 15% of gross sales — as if tips are mandatory!) to the restaurant to cover restaurant operational expenses should be outlawed. Tips should be for the workers, not the owners.
I agree that Kitchen staff, including chefs, are paid much higher wages compared to the wait staff, and, therefore, should not be tipped off. Wages are lower for wait staff under the assumption tipping will more than make up for it, which it often does, especially at nicer places.
However, I do have a problem with other tipping expectations in other industries – like hairdressing, for example. Hairdressers mostly work on commission, and are compensated more than adequately, yet are expected to be tipped off.
we didn’t tip this Toronto Life writer for drafting this article, right? And yet most writer definitely make less than my hairdresser. Where does the expectation end?
No kitchen staff and definitely not managers should ever be part of the tip pool. Ever. We as waiters/waitresses and bartenders take that sort of job FOR the tips. Pooling of tips is never equitable. My personality and flair for people will always make me earn more than my fellow employee. Why should I have to share that with someone who doesn’t pull his or her weight??
If you don’t want to work in a kitchen such as Kelsey’s because the hourly rate is only $12/hour, then move on up. That’s certainly more than I’ve ever made per hour bartending and serving for years. I rely on my tips to get me through.
I think most people –managers, kitchen staff, etc.–realized that there was good money to be made and now they all want a piece of the pie. Unfortunately, I see so many brand new 19-year olds who still haven’t learned how to tip yet. The new standard is actually 20%. 15% is a given and most nights I don’t come home with 10%. So it’s not as great as it used to be.
After all is said and done, leave the tips in the hands of those who get tipped. If you want to work for tips, get out of the kitchen and move behind the bar or become a server.
Never having worked as a server, I can empathize with the folks in the hospitality industry. The whole area of tipping is a mine field! One of the above posters suggests that 20% is the new norm. Who said so? Tipping used to mean “to insure prompt service”, now it means anybody with the nerve to put their hand out EXPECTS it to be greased. Having spent more than a quarter century preparing tax returns for many who dabble in the service industry all I can say is, keep bitching and it will end up like in Quebec, where the tips all go through the house, which deducts QPP, Tax and EU. Maybe then thee rules will be quantified and the individual servers will be forced to pay their fair share of taxes like us other workers.
Interesting debate. When I worked in hotels in London England in the 1970’s all dining tabs included a 15% gratuity. No further tipping was required or expected. This system was referred to as “tronc”. The tronc was broken down as follows; Matre’D received the largest portion, dining room captains received the next largest, then waiters, followed by bussers. Both the bar and the kitchen received a small portion. Hence, diners were not expected to tip,( although some, mainly out of country travellers, did, and dining room staff looked forward to a small cash envelope weekly, which would also be supplemented upwards by the hotel if the amount of the gratuities became higher than the salary).
The reason this system evolved was because of a demand from serving staff. Waiters could not go to a bank and arrange to get a mortgage based on an income that was made up primarily of tips, which, of course, was an inconsistent income. Their salary, which was a steady income stream on a weekly basis, then allowed them to arrange things like loans and mortgages.
It seems a shame these occurances happen only in Europe where restaurant employees are considered a well repected profession. Maybe someday we will be there.
If you work in a kitchen just to make money you are in the wrong business…..
The service industry should not have to rely on tips as income, so therefore the employer needs to pay much higher wages in order for this to happen. I find it especially disturbing when really expensive restaurants pay their staff these low wages. Also, the clients should be expected to pay 15 or 20% gratuity to subsidize their earnings – a tip is a bonus, not a right.
Sorry, that should’ve read “the clients shouldn’t be expected to pay 15 or 20% gratuity”
I’ll personally never pay 20% tip–sorry, but I pay for the food as priced, and I pay 12-15 for good service. End of story.
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