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Tipped workers may have to split money

Posted at 7:17 AM, Dec 07, 2017
and last updated 2017-12-07 09:16:40-05

 Waiters and waitresses who rely on tips may have to start sharing their earned money.

The Trump administration has proposed rules that would allow restaurants to make their employees pool tips. The rule would only apply to employees who make the federal minimum wage of $7.25 an hour.

It would not apply to people who make the federal minimum wage for tipped employees, which is $2.13 an hour. In Michigan, it's $3.10. In 2011, the Obama administration had prohibited employers from requiring employees to share tips regardless of how much the employee earned.

FOX 47's Alani Letang talked with a manager and a restaurant owner who both think it's a bad idea.

"I think it's a waste of time; if it's not broke don't fix it," said Michelle Mercer, Marriott Courtyard Bistro manager.

Mercer has worked in the restaurant industry for 30 years and has worn every hat from the back of the house to the front. She told us taking away tips won't help you, the customer. 

"You are not going to get the customer service that you are used to because nobody is going to care anymore. It's really unfortunate that they would consider this" said Mercer.

But she doesn't stand alone in her opinion. Stuart Vanis, co-owner of Coral Gables in East Lansing, says he is not considering forcing employees to share tips. He has talked with his employees about the issue and he said they're happy with the way things operate. "I think the servers take pride in personal service and I think if you know you're going to get rewarded directly then your service level will probably be much better," said Vanis.

Every day is different in a restaurant and that affects how much employees make in tips. Employers told me their employees rely on those tips for basic everyday needs.

"Some days you can make good tips, other days you'll go home with five dollars and if you have to split that with other people you're going home with a dollar, $2.50 maybe, that's not going to put food on your table," said Mercer.

Employers also told me there might be a shortage in the restaurant industry if tips have to be shared.

However not every worker thinks this way. Some have said that as cooks and dishwashers they're a part of a customer's service and feel they deserve some of the gratuities.

Critics of the proposal say it could allow restaurants to take a cut of the tips.

The "National Restaurant Association" said employers aren't going risk getting sued for it. Check back for updates.