British Columbia

B.C. employers to be prohibited by law from keeping workers' tips

Workers in British Columbia's service industry are welcoming a new piece of legislation that will prohibit employers from taking a share — or all — of the tips left by customers.

Tip pooling still permitted, but employers can't deduct or withhold tips under amendments to employment law

A tip jar at the JJ Bean cafe outside 700 Hamilton St., Vancouver. Employment Standards Act amendments introduced April 29 have made it illegal for employers to take tips from staff. (Jan Zeschky/CBC)

Workers in British Columbia's service industry are welcoming a new piece of legislation that will prohibit employers from taking a share — or all — of the tips left by customers. 

"Those are supposed to be their wages," said Labour Minister Harry Bains on Monday. "The money is left behind for the service that they provide to the customer."

Eric Nordal, 33, agrees. He's a bartender in Victoria who has spent more than half his life in the service industry. 

"As anybody working in the restaurant industry knows, it's low-wage work and it's precarious work, it's part-time work," said Nordal. "Tips are a very significant part of how we eat and how we pay rent."

Nordal also works as a project manager with the Retail Action Network, a non-profit organization that gets involved in labour issues.

He says it has increasingly become industry standard for employers to manage tip pools, and in many cases take a percentage for the business, or withhold tips as a disciplinary measure.

Employment Standards Act amendments introduced on Monday will make it illegal for employers to take any of the tips, except in cases where they're performing the exact same job as the staff.

Tip pooling will still be permitted, and employers can continue managing those tip pools to distribute the money among staff, but cannot deduct or withhold tips.

Nordal said his group was pushing for the law to dictate that tip pools have to be managed by staff, but the B.C. government didn't go that far.

Corrections

  • An earlier version of this story said employers were prohibited from keeping worker's tips. In fact, the legislation has only been introduced and has yet to be passed.
    May 03, 2019 1:58 PM PT

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