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Is tip pooling an appropriate policy for Florida restaurants?

On Behalf of | May 1, 2024 | Wage & Hour Laws |

Working in a restaurant can be a valuable opportunity for a motivated individual. Staff members can leverage their physical appearance or people skills to make far more than they might earn in an office setting or an unskilled labor position.

Waitstaff and bartenders working at restaurants can augment their relatively low hourly wages with gratuities or tips left by customers. Customers patronizing a restaurant may leave generous tips when they enjoy a high-price meal out or when a server facilitates an excellent experience. In some cases, workers could earn multiple times the current minimum wage through gratuities because of how well they treat their customers.

Someone who has worked hard to earn a tip may resent the idea that they have to share those funds with other people. Some restaurants essentially force servers to share their tips by implementing tip-pooling policies. Is it legal for employers to require workers to pool gratuities in Florida?

Florida does not restrict tip pooling

Some states have enacted laws specifically regulating gratuity-sharing practices. In Florida, the law defers to the federal rules established under the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA). Effectively, tip pooling is theoretically legal provided that the employer adheres to certain standards.

The company must consistently enforce its tip-pooling rules. More importantly, the company can only require that workers share tips with other tipped employees or other hourly workers. Managers and owners, as well as anyone paid on a salary basis, are likely ineligible for tips and should not receive anything from tip-pooling efforts.

At some restaurants, tip pooling might look like all tipped service workers pooling what they receive and then equally dividing the final amount among themselves. Other times, tip pooling might involve providing a certain portion of the tips received to team members who support the servers, like bussers, dishwashers and hosts.

If a company engages in abusive tip pooling practices, then employees might have grounds to pursue a wage claim against the business. Learning more about the unique laws that govern tipped positions in Florida can be beneficial for those concerned about practices at their place of employment, as well as executives or owners who want to protect a business from worker lawsuits.