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Can administrative staff receive tips?

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  • Can administrative staff receive tips?

    The question is; can administrative staff working regularly as a bartender legally accept tips from guests?

    Our small hotel, located in Massachusetts, recently downsized its staff.

    Administrative management’s (full time/exempt) job descriptions have been altered to include being scheduled for approximately 30 to 40 hours a week working various line positions such as receptionist, cooking in the kitchen, hosting, serving and bartending in the restaurant.

    Previously administrative staff “filled in” for various positions as required due to volume of business, sickness, and the like. Receiving small amounts of gratuities during these incidences were never an issue.

    When an administrative staff works as bartender tips are enviable. Guests often leave a gratuity on their credit card or charge to their room (company policy is that a 20% gratuity will be added to all food and beverages charged to rooms.

    The business office of this property is “holding back” tips generated by administrative staff when working scheduled bar shifts.

    Please comment.

    Thank you.

  • #2

    First of all, I am not sure how one can work as a bartender for 40 hours a week and remain exempt. That aside, if the company policy is that tips are not to be accepted by these employees, they may have such a policy. It would be very hard to find anyone willing to take such a job but it is legal.
    Last edited by ElleMD; 09-26-2006, 07:07 AM.
    I post with the full knowledge and support of my employer, though the opinions rendered are my own and not necessarily representative of their position. In other words, I'm a free agent.


    • #3
      MA is a little unusual in the way we handle our tips. We have a statute at c.149, s.152A which deals with Service chages, tips, and tip pooling.

      You can find this law at

      It basically states that if an employer permits tipping, then the service bartenders get to keep any tip they receive. If there is tip pooling, then they may have to share tips with their colleagues but not management. The problem on your facts is that they do not apply to a bartender who also has managerial responsibilities. The question is whether you have sufficient "managerial responsibilities" to disqualify as a "service bartender."

      You should also look to the Attorney General's Advisory on this law. You can find that at

      This law only became effective July, 2004, but it has generated quite a bit of litigation around here. If you still have questions, post them here, and we'll do our best to answer, but hopefully, that will help get you started.

      This post is by Philip Gordon, a Massachusetts employment attorney (

      This post is NOT legal advice. It is for general/educational information purposes only. You should not rely on this post if you are making decisions, and it does not create an attorney-client relationship. This post may be considered "advertising" under the MA professional rules for attorneys.