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Are Waiters Sneaking Mandatory Tips onto Checks?

By Stephanie Rabiner, Esq. on September 02, 2011 | Last updated on March 21, 2019

Do your employees receive mandatory tips?

If so, consider a recent article in the New York Post, which has restaurant patrons complaining about New York City waiters sneaking mandatory tips onto checks in situations where the restaurant's policy doesn't seem to apply.

In one example, a patron complains about a waiter charging a 20% gratuity after counting two infants to reach the magical number of six.

Another points out that her group ordered drinks at the bar, but was charged extra for joining a large table a while later.

How would your mandatory tip policy apply to these situations?

If you're not sure, it may be time to re-work your policy--or to write one in the first place.

And don't forget about retraining your employees to comply.

Doing so isn't only about great customer service--it's about the law.

In addition to keeping employees honest and customers happy, a well-stated and consistent application of a mandatory tip policy can help fend off claims of discrimination, false advertising, breach of contract, and fraud.

But what does a well-stated policy contain?

It varies by business, but you should certainly include the following:

  • Percentage
  • Number of patrons
  • Who counts as a patron (age, purchase)?
  • Who served the group (bartender, waiter)?
  • Split checks

As situations arise where customers are confused by your mandatory tip policy, make amendments and inform your staff of the changes.

The rules about mandatory tips are ever-changing, so don't be afraid to let your policy be a work in progress. Just apply it evenly and make its terms available to your customers.

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