Trump administration proposes changes to tip policy

ALBANY, N.Y. (NEWS10) – Restaurant servers could soon have to share their tips with their colleagues who don’t usually receive them.

The federal government proposed a change to a rule that goes back to the Obama era.

Ben Sorin has been bartending and serving tables for 20 years. He currently works at Pearl Street Pub in downtown Albany. Without tips, he wouldn’t be able to get by.

“They sort of represent how well of a job we did; how well of a connection we made with our tables,” he said.

Tips are rewards he earns himself, but in the near future he may have to share them.

Under a proposal from the U.S. Department of Labor, employers would be able to pool tips earned by employees like bartenders and servers and share them with those who don’t earn gratuities like cooks and dishwashers as long as employees meet state minimum wage requirements.

It’s a practice that was banned in 2011 by the Obama administration, which said employers could only legally pool with tipped employees.

The labor department said the rule would help decrease wage inequality. While Sorin and his employer, Chris Pratt, agree the back of the house should get more incentives, they don’t feel it’s the right way to do it.

“In the end, it is my money,” Sorin said. “I made the relationship with that table.”

“Maybe if they feel like they’re just going to get tipped no matter what, then they’re just going to do whatever they want in the back of the house,” Pratt said.

Pratt’s concerned his workers won’t put as much effort into their jobs, and that he’ll have trouble finding quality servers.

“If they felt like they had to share those or they were obligated to share those, we would definitely have a problem filling those positions,” he said.

On Sorin’s end, he’s worried employers may start keeping tips for themselves. The proposal doesn’t specifically say it would require employers to allocate the money.

“I don’t want anybody digging into my pockets,” he said. “I work hard for it.”

But if it passes, Sorin’s hopeful his employer won’t stoop that low.

“I work for great owners in the restaurants that I work at, so I can trust them,” he said.

The rule was proposed on Monday and is currently undergoing a 30-day public comment period.

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