BC government tightens tipping regulations

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For the first time in 15 years, the province of British Columbia has made significant changes to the Employment Standards Act after the government had the first reading of Bill 8, Employment Standards Amendment Act on April 29.

The amendments cover a range of issues from youth employment, protected leave for new employees and tips and gratuities. In a statement to SPIN, Minister of Labour Harry Bains stated the legislative changes mirror Ontario’s law on tips and gratuities, and now disallows employers from withholding tips, deducting an employee’s gratuities, or requiring employees to return or give gratuities to their employer.

Bill 8 defines gratuities as “payment voluntarily made to or left for an employee by a customer of the employee’s employer in circumstances in which a reasonable person would be likely to infer that the customer intended or assumed that the payment would be kept by the employee or shared by the employee with other employees.”

“Everyone deserves to be paid wages that they’ve rightfully earned,” wrote Bains. “We’ve been hearing for years about unfair employer practices when it comes to tips, and the recent changes to the Employment Standards Act aim to put a stop to that.”

Under the new bill employers are permitted to pool tips, collecting tips to redistribute to some or all of the staff, often in restaurants as servers tip outs. The amendment forbids employers sharing in the tip pool unless they are performing the same work as the employees.

“Most B.C. employers are honest and fair. These changes are meant to protect worker wages when employers don’t follow the rules.”

The new regulations don’t apply if an employer is authorized or required to withhold gratuities, make a deduction or require the employee to return the gratuities. It also doesn’t apply if the courts require the employer to remit the gratuities to a third party and the employer fails to do so.

Regulations set out in Bill 8 also allow for a more proactive and tougher investigative approach by the director of employment standards. To learn more about the amendments made to the Employment Standards Act visit www.leg.bc.ca