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Working Wise: Tip Tips

Dear Working Wise,

We have a tip jar at the cash register where I work, but the coffee shop owner splits the tips with us. Is the store owner allowed to do that? Aren’t tips supposed to be for the staff who provide good service?
Signed, Tipped Off

February 9, 2016

Dear Tipped Off,

Tips are not considered to be wages under Alberta’s Employment Standards Code. How tips are handled in your workplace is a decision between you and your employer. That’s why it’s important to discuss all the terms of employment—including tips—before you accept a new job.

If it’s really bothering you, try talking to your employer about it—they might be willing to change their policy.

Employers have a vested interest in seeing that you are happy and satisfied at work because they trust you to handle their cash and keep their customers coming back.

Links have been drawn between employee engagement and customer engagement by articles in Forbes and Entrepreneur magazines

Although tips are not considered to be wages under the Employment Standards Code, they are still considered earnings and must be claimed as income on your income tax returnthis includes your employer. Visit the Canada Revenue Agency site for more information on tips and their tax implications.

Your situation provides a valuable lesson to all employees: be sure you discuss and clearly understand all the terms and conditions of employment before you take a new job.

If you are still not satisfied with your job after talking to your employer, you might want to consider looking for a new job.

You can drop by your nearest Alberta Works Centre and get help looking for a new job or get information on upgrading your skills so that you can get a better-paying job.

For more tips and questions to ask when negotiating job offers, check out the How to Handle Job Offers article on ALIS.

Good luck negotiating your next job offer.

Photo Credit: © iStockphoto/jean-marie Guyon

Working Wise is a syndicated newspaper column prepared by the Government of Alberta to answer work-related questions from Albertans. Do you have a work-related question? You can send it to Charles Strachey (, a manager with Alberta Community and Social Services.

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