Restaurant work is arduous work, but the payoff is often good tips. However, if you work as a restaurant worker in St. Petersburg, Florida, and receive tips from customers, you may wonder if your manager can take your tips or force you to share them with other employees. The answer depends on several factors, such as whether you are paid the minimum wage, whether you are part of a tip pool and whether your manager provides direct service to customers.
Fair Labor Standards Act
According to the FLSA, tips belong to the employee who earns them, and employers cannot take any portion of them for themselves or for the business. However, employers can use a “tip credit” to pay tipped employees less than the regular minimum wage, as long as the employee’s tips make up the difference.
In Florida, the minimum wage was $10.00 per hour as of September 30, 2021, and the tip credit is $3.02 per hour, which means that tipped employees must receive at least $6.98 per hour from their employer. If their tips do not reach $10.00 per hour, the employer must pay the difference.
Employers can also require tipped employees to participate in a tip pool, which is a system where tips are collected and distributed among a group of employees who customarily receive tips. However, only employees who provide direct service to customers can be part of a tip pool, such as servers, bartenders, bussers and hosts. Employees who do not regularly interact with customers, such as cooks, dishwashers or janitors, cannot be included in a tip pool.
Managers and supervisors
Moreover, managers and supervisors cannot receive tips from a tip pool, even if they perform some service duties. However, managers and supervisors are not prohibited from keeping tips that they receive directly from customers for their own service. For example, if a manager serves a table by themselves and receives a tip from the customer, they can keep that tip or contribute it to the tip pool. The manager cannot keep any portion of the tips earned by other employees they supervise.
Tipped employees who work more than 40 hours in a workweek are entitled to overtime pay at 1.5 times their regular rate of pay. To calculate overtime pay for tipped employees, the employer must use the full minimum wage of $10.00 per hour, not the reduced wage of $6.98 per hour. Then, the employer must subtract the tip credit of $3.02 per hour and multiply the result by 1.5. Therefore, overtime pay for tipped employees in Florida should be at least $11.98 per hour.