A tip pool is simply a tipping system in which all the tips are gathered into a central fund. These are then distributed to all of the eligible staff in equal amounts.
Employers often like these because they ensure that all customers can get the same level of service from any of the employees. They don’t have to wait for one single server. Anyone can help them at any time, and that is seen as a customer-first policy.
Why is anyone against a tip pool?
Employees don’t always like it, however, because those who earn more in tips feel like they are losing to those who earn less. For instance, maybe there are three employees, two who each earned $50 in tips and one who earned $200 in tips. In a tip pool, all would take home $100. This doubles the tips for the first two, but it makes that last employee feel like half of their tips are being taken.
Regardless of how your employees feel about it, you are allowed to use a tip pool. Just make sure that all the employees know that you’re going to pool the tips in advance, and be sure that the only people drawing funds out of that pool are other members of the wait staff. Do not take any of the tips for yourself. Do not let managers or supervisors be involved in the tip pool.
Even if you try to do everything right, you may still run into a wage and hour dispute with your employees. Make sure you’re well aware of state laws and the options that you have.