provided the participants are not required to contribute a greater percentage of their tips to the pool than is customary or reasonable.
Employers often ask whether it is possible for management to run a tip pool or participate in operating one. The answer is a qualified “yes”—but employers should pay close attention to the following DOL guidelines on tip pooling:
Tip-pooling arrangements are only allowed among employees who customarily receive tips. The following occupations have been recognized as falling within the eligible category: bellhops, waiters and waitresses (including cocktail servers), counter personnel who serve customers, bus-persons, and service bartenders.
It is not required that bus-persons or others who share in tips receive tips directly from customers. Both the amounts retained by the servers, for example, and those given to bus-persons are considered the tips of the individual who retains them.
A valid tip-pooling arrangement cannot require servers to contribute a greater percentage of their tips than is customary and reasonable. For enforcement purposes, the DOL will not question pool contributions that do not exceed 15% of the employee’s tips. However, only tips in excess of the tip credit may be taken for the pool.