Dear Working Wise:
We have a tip jar at the cash register where I work, but the coffee shop owner splits the tips with us. Is the store owner allowed to do that? Aren’t tips supposed to be for the staff who provide good service? Signed, Tipped Off
Dear Tipped Off:
I’m sorry that I don’t have better news for you, but tips are not considered to be wages under Alberta’s Employment Standards Code.
How tips are handled in your workplace is a decision between you and your employer.
That’s why it’s important to discuss all the terms of employment—including tips—before you accept a new job.
If it’s really bothering you, try talking to your employer about it—they might be willing to change their policy.
Employers have a vested interest in seeing that you are happy and satisfied at work, because they trust you to handle their cash and keep their customers coming back.
If you don’t believe your employer is living up to your original agreement or if you believe you are not receiving tips that are intended for you, one option could be to explore the possibility of legal action through the courts. For more information on accessing the courts, visit www.albertacourts.ab.ca.
Although tips are not considered to be wages under the Employment Standards Code, they are still considered earnings and must be claimed as income on your income tax return—this includes your employer. For more information on tips and their tax implications, visit www.cra-arc.gc.ca.
Your situation provides a valuable lesson to all employees: be sure you discuss and clearly understand all the terms and conditions of employment before you take a new job.
If you are still not satisfied with your job after talking to your employer, you might want to consider looking for a new job.
You can drop by your nearest Alberta Works Centre and get help looking for a new job or get information on upgrading your skills so that you can get a better-paying job. To find the centre nearest you, visit http://employment.alberta.ca/offices.
For more tips and questions to ask when negotiating job offers, visit the Alberta Learning Information Service (ALIS) web site at http://alis.alberta.ca and search the tip sheets for Handling Job Offers.
Good luck negotiating your next job offer!
Do you have a work-related question? Send your questions to Working Wise, at email@example.com. Charles Strachey is a regional manager with Alberta Human Services. This column is provided for general information.