Oklahoma attorney discusses tip policies as they apply to federal minimum wage

Crystal Johnson, Labor Law Attorney for Conner & Winters, addresses laws applying to holiday tipping.
by Paula Burkes Published: December 11, 2012

Q: What is “tip sharing” and how does it differ from “tip pooling”?

A: Federal law permits mandatory tip pooling, but does not permit mandatory tip sharing; the latter is strictly voluntary. This is different because employees can voluntarily share their tips with cooks, service helpers or other employees, but cannot be required to share with those employees, and may share in the amount that the employee chooses. And an employee may include some but not all who assist in the service. For instance, an employee can chose to share his or her tips with the busboy, but not include their bartender. Employees can share any amount they voluntarily chose to with other employees. These amounts do not have to be equal across the board like tip pooling and are not limited to 15 percent of the tips received.

Q: What should you do as an employer if an employee complains of the “tip pooling” or “tip sharing” policies?

A: Employers should explain in writing any tip-pooling or tip-sharing program to their employees and have the employee acknowledge the program before his or her employment. Hopefully these measures will reduce potential complaints relating to tip-pooling and tip-sharing programs.


by Paula Burkes
A 1981 journalism graduate of Oklahoma State University, Paula Burkes has more than 30 years experience writing and editing award-winning material for newspapers and healthcare, educational and telecommunications institutions in Tulsa, Oklahoma...
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