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B.C. servers welcome labour law amendment that would bar employers from claiming tips

Last Updated Apr 30, 2019 at 1:35 pm PDT

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B.C. bartender says tips make up significant portion of many workers' income

Vancouver-based server would prefer to see tip culture disappear in B.C.

VANCOUVER (NEWS 1130) – The province’s labour laws are getting an overhaul, and one of the proposed amendments would prohibit employers from taking a cut of the tips earned by service workers.

The change is being celebrated by Eric Nordel, a Victoria bartender and member of the Retail Action Network. “We’ve been lobbying for this for about three years — pre-NDP government — and it is one of those things where people are like ‘really, that’s not even a law?'”

Nordel says tips make up a significant percentage of restaurant workers’ income, but management claiming a portion of that income has become more standard across the service industry.

He adds the Retail Action Network receives calls every week from industry workers who have been denied tips for various reasons, sometimes totalling hundreds of dollars.

“It just makes this already part-time precarious work even more precarious because you just don’t know if the employer will say ‘you’re not getting your tips this month,'” he said.

The Employment Standards Act would still permit tip pooling if the amendment is passed, and an employer could still claim a share if they perform the same work as others in the pool.

RELATED: Better to leave no tip than a bad tip: BC food industry

Vancouver-based server Chris Beeson says the tips he receives are more significant to his overall income than his base hourly pay. He tells us it’s surprising that tip protections were not already entrenched in legislation.

“I think that most of the people that do a serving job or work in bars are there solely for the tips because the base pay is just never enough,” he said.

While he welcomes the change, Beeson would prefer to see tip culture disappear, and for the service industry to pay its workers a living wage. “There’s too many variables when it comes to tipping that rely on the guests who come in to have an understanding of how the system works, which most don’t.”

Other proposed changes to the Employment Standards Act would prevent workers escaping domestic violence from losing their jobs, restrict the kind of hazardous work teenagers can be asked to perform, and raise the age a child may work from 12 to 16, with some exceptions.