State protects employees’ right to keep tips

New state regulations effective June 29 protect employees’ right to keep tips thy receive on the job and prohibit employers from redistributing those tips among other workers.

“Employers should not be allowed to confiscate tips,” Labor and Workforce Development Commissioner Heidi Drygas said June 21. “These regulations ensure individuals working in Alaska continue to have the right to keep the income thy earn through tips.”

The U.S. Department of Labor proposed last year regulations allowing employers to take a portion of tipped wages away from tipped workers. These regulations were referenced in Alaska’s Administrative Code. Drygas said that in an effort to maintain current employee protections, the state developed regulations to preserve that protection in Alaska.

Congress passed a law earlier this year prohibiting employers from taking employees’ tips, but that law would still allow employers to redistribute those tips to non-tipped employees. According to the National Employment Law Project this would likely lead to reductions in wages of tipped workers with a transfer in wealth from those “front of the house” workers.

The regulation does not limit or prohibit the voluntary sharing of tips by employees, which is a common practice in many establishments.