From The Chronicle Journal:
ONTARIO’S MPPs opened the restaurant tips menu Monday and they might need the drinks list to get through it. Talk about a grey zone! There are few rules in the game of tipping because the law has little to say about it. There are some generalities in the Employment Standards Act but nothing in federal revenue rules. Tips can be kept by servers, put into a pot for all who wait on customers or divied up among all staff on duty that night. In some cases, management keeps a portion of tips, allegedly to cover breakage or monetary error.
The Employment Standards Act does prohibit employers from making deductions from wages to cover broken plates, credit card mistakes or cash shortages, but tips are not wages. So if the restaurant asks its employees to give up a percentage of their tips, it is not illegal. New Democrat MPP Michael Prue wants to change that with his private member’s fill introduced Monday.
What employers do with that money is similarly beyond the reach of law and so there are a host of reasons given staff for withholding a portion of tips. (One Toronto restaurant was found to be giving the cut to managers in lieu of Christmas bonuses. Staff went public with complaints after management said it was increasing its take of tips by one per cent.)
Perhaps the most common form of house-controlled tipping is the automatic “gratuity” built into bills for large groups of diners. This removes the right of individual customers to choose to reduce or even withhold a tip for poor service. It may also result in extra tips from customers who are not aware the house is already adding a gratuity to the bill.
Wait staff generally work hard as do bartenders on busy nights. They used to simply keep their own tips until other staff, including kitchen and support staff wanted in on the generosity of customers intent on rewarding good service and food.
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