Serious Question About Managing Tips

Joined Apr 3, 2013
So here's some back story for my question. Right now i work in a small bbq joint and the environment is pretty relaxed. Most nights we only have one waitress working and two on the weekends. The owner/my boss; he works with us in the kitchen everyday too; at the end of the night will actually reach into the servers tip jar and count their tips. the servers just split tips down the middle here. He is worried about them lying and "stealing" when it comes to the tips. Now i personally disagree with what he does and feel that it should be the servers private information and only disclosing it if they want to. But at the same time there needs to be a level of trust there. In my experience, a server waited a table, took the tip from that table, and it was all for them. there was never a community tip jar.

Within a couple of months we are opening a full service restaurant and i will be managing it. Here's my question....Does anyone have a way to mange servers' tips where i wont have to invade their privacy but at the same time not worry about them lying? I have worked in a couple places (corporate setting) where almost all the servers lied about their tips at the end of the night just to get a slightly higher pay check. now i know that at the end of the day servers are cheap help, usually about $3/hour in my area, so does it really matter?

Please tell me about how you run things with the servers. I'd like to have a few different ideas to take to my boss and see what we can do about it.
Joined Oct 31, 2012
Your boss can not take the tips but he has every right to know what they are. He has to report them on payroll. Tips are also a gauge of service rendered and if you do not have a POS, tips can be a factor in knowing whether or not staff are stealing his money. 

The IRS understands that tips are typically under reported but have a minimum for reporting. ( I think it's around 16% but not sure). 

Open information policy for tips is also a good basis for establishing honesty on both sides. It is not relevant for the cooks to know what tips are but between the owner and staff it is. In an overly simplified way of explaining, no one gets 50% tips and no one gets 10%. So should a wait staff claim either, money is missing from somewhere. 
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Joined Jun 27, 2012
Tipping can be an emotional issue and there are a few good threads re this subject in the CT archives.

Tips always made up a large part of my income.

I have experienced both tip jar my income and every tip jar everyone's income.

Never cheated anyone and never thought anyone else cheated me.

I worked with pro's tho....(adults if you will).

Never had to deal with a suspicious owner either.

Maybe things have changed and if so I am glad I am no longer a part of that scene.

There are strict laws governing tips...both federal and state and my best advise for you @ChefZack  is to familiarize yourself with the ones you will operate under.

OBTW Zack.... I like your opinion re tips being a private thing.

If anyone even LOOKED like they were gonna touch my jar......well let's just say that person would have had an up close and personal relationship with an xray machine lol.

Told ya it was an emotional issue /img/vbsmilies/smilies/smile.gif.

Joined Mar 3, 2016
In Australia, we don't work on a tipping system- everybody makes a minimum wage, so tips are appreciated but not expected. It's why wait staff fall over themselves to serve American guests.

My policy as manager has always been- you get a tip, it's yours, but if you don't tell me when you get a tip, look out.
I've had situations where a guest has left money in the billfold and staff has assumed it a tip, only for the guests to come back and accuse us of theft.
Joined Jan 19, 2014
My experience with tipping is varied; individual tips, pooled tips, and 18% automatically added to check, but in all cases the owner has never had the attitude that it's his right to know what the servers made in tip income (it isn't) What the server claims in weekly tips is up to them. Here, the law says they must at least claim an amount equal to the state regular minimum wage, Server min. is now $3.55 and hr. so they need to at least claim $6.45 to get to $10/hr.,  my state minimum wage. As an owner, I don't want know if they are under-reporting, so I'd never count their tip jar. Of course, credit card tips are a known amount so they are accounted for in full. What they claim in cash tips is up to the server. We promote a team atmosphere that seems to work as the bus tip-outs seem fair and honest. Honestly, I fail to see how knowing what servers make for tips somehow prevents employee theft. I agree with those who say it's a private thing.
Joined Apr 3, 2013
Thanks everyone for inputs. They're very much appreciated. I'll try to look up some old posts on the subject.
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