Can Salaried Employees Accept Tips?

Tips and gratuities are prohibited by some state and federal laws.

Tips and gratuities are prohibited by some state and federal laws.

It might not be against the law or against your company policy for salaried employees to accept an occasional tip. But the perception of salaried employees receiving tips isn't exactly a favorable one, especially in situations involving public sector employees. If you're a salaried worker, err on the side of caution and refuse tips that you think are inappropriate or gratuities you believe are intended for more than just "thank you" for a job well done.

Federal Law

Under the Fair Labor Standards Act, the rules for tipped employees apply to hourly, nonexempt workers who earn more than $30 each month in tips. The federal law doesn't specifically rule out salaried employees as tipped workers, but the FLSA guidelines apply to hourly workers. The minimum wage for tipped employees is $2.13, and when the employee's average tips don't add up to average $7.25 an hour -- the federal minimum hourly wage -- the employer has to make up the difference.

Tipped Workers' Jobs

In many cases, tipped workers are in the food-and-beverage industry, hospitality and tourism industry or in a service occupation, such as limousine and taxi drivers, sky caps and similar jobs. The FLSA refers to employees who "customarily and regularly receive tips" as being subject to the federal guidelines. That means salaried employees might not be considered tipped employees, but that doesn't prevent a salaried worker from accepting a tip.

Customs and Practice

Clients and customers often show how much they appreciate someone's work by tipping them. Rules for tipping don't correspond to whether the employee is hourly or salaried, and the customer may not even care how the employee is paid. Tipping generally is based on etiquette and common courtesy. Therefore, if you're a salaried employee or if you supervise salaried employees who aren't in service occupations, an occasional tip is acceptable. An exception to this is employees in the public sector, who usually cannot receive gifts, tips or gratuities.

Public Sector Employees

If you're a salaried or hourly public sector employee, it might be against the federal, state or municipal government's ethics policies for you to receive gratuities. For example, if you're a legislator, contract administrator or attorney, you have the power to influence decisions concerning laws and business opportunities, which means you shouldn't accept gratuities or gifts from people trying to influence you. Some state laws cap maximum gratuities that public employees can accept, and other government agencies simply say, "No tips or gratuities allowed."

About the Author

Ruth Mayhew began writing in 1985. Her work appears in "The Multi-Generational Workforce in the Health Care Industry" and "Human Resources Managers Appraisal Schemes." Mayhew earned senior professional human resources certification from the Human Resources Certification Institute and holds a Master of Arts in sociology from the University of Missouri-Kansas City.

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