Restaurant owners taking tips from staff—and not in a good way

Restaurant owners taking tips from staff—and not in a good way

(Image: Andrew Currie)

The restaurant industry in Ontario struggled more during the recession than most other industries. The one-two-three punch of the economy slowing down, the reduction in expense accounts and a recent increase in the minimum wage has a lot of managers scrounging for money. But after their first reaction to the wage bump looked like it was written by Mr. Burns, the industry has settled on a new tactic: taking a bigger chunk of the staff’s tips at the end of the night—sometimes up to four per cent.

Reports the Star:

A tip-out to the business wasn’t common until a year ago. But when the economy slowed down, some restaurants introduced the concept. When the minimum wage rose from $9.50 to $10.25 about two weeks ago, some more restaurants started the practice.

Some protested, some complained, and one outraged server posted a riposte on craigslist.

She “warned” against working at a popular Toronto waterfront pub, saying that it’s now asking for a 4 per cent tip out of entire sales, including to the management.

The practice seems pretty sketchy to us. Because tips are off the books, even if a table stiffs the server, the server still has to tip the owners and split the tips between bar and kitchen staff. The Star quotes one anonymous waitress who begs to have the minimum wage lowered again, saying that she makes less money now than she did before the recent increase. A more realistic solution comes from a spokesperson for the restaurant industry, saying the practice is “unusual,” and if servers don’t want to give up a chunk of their tips, they should leave their job.

• Restaurant bosses take bigger share of the tip [Toronto Star]