Change in tip policy riles service workers

By LAUREN SHUN/Montana State News

A new tip policy adopted recently by the food service on the Montana State University campus, is creating a division between some employees and managers.

The new tip policy gathers the tips at the end of each business day, taxes them, and distributes the tips monthly among employees depending upon the amount of hours they worked.

This new system, although legal, is seen as unfair to some employees. The distribution of tips depending upon the amount of hours worked takes money away from others who work harder at customer service. Now that employees do not get tips daily, the motivation to provide good customer service could be affected.

Jesse Hay, shift manager at the Standing Room Only coffee shop in the Strand Union Building said, “The only issue is now we are being taxed for the small amount that we do work for and we won’t be seeing it as soon. If anything, it may decrease service and our motivation.”

The old tip policy allowed any employees working that day to divide the tips among each other at the end of the shift, tax-free. This policy was illegal, as the tips were not being taxed nor reported to the Internal Revenue Service.

With the elimination of this policy, employees are also worried about not having cash throughout the month, money that made a substantial impact on their lives.

Stephanie Beeman, a barista at the Brewed Awakening coffee shop in the Renee Library, said, “Most of us live on tips. We buy food with this money, we buy gas with this money, and we survive on this money.”

Beeman said, “[Food Service] employees are paid once a month, which is already difficult to financially cope with, particularly for student employees.”

Now that there is no financial buffer between paychecks, employees and managers are seeking a solution in order to provide different means for a larger paycheck.

Hay said, “Though we are now being taxed, the upper management refuses to put forth effort into creating an option for our customers to tip us when they use cards, which is about 95%.”

If a tip line to all credit and debit card receipts is added, the monthly paycheck for employees would be larger, minimizing the burden the new tip policy has created.

Implementing another system in which employees could receive more tips might ease the tension between employees and upper management around campus.

– Edited by Alex Heidema

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