Can a Manager Take Tips When the Till is Down?

Q.My son works in a pub restaurant and last night the till was down by £16 and so the manager took their tips to put the till right. Is this lawful? I would have thought that this was stealing from the employees and that she had no right to take their tips without their consent.

Surely she should have completed a form for her head office to report the till loss and that the tips should have been shared out fairly. Can you tell me what he can do about this. I look forward to your thoughts on this. P.S. There is no union that can take this up for him.

Mrs M D, 9 September 2020


Your son’s manager should not have taken cash tips in this way. It is illegal for a restaurant to take cash tips which have been given to staff by customers. Once a customer has given a tip to a server, it belongs to them.

On the other hand, any tips paid by credit card or service charges paid in the same way are the property of the business. There are bills in the pipeline to close this loophole and ensure all staff are paid tips in full.

Fair Tips Charter

Back in July 2008, and as the result of a campaign run by the trade union Unite in conjunction with the Daily Mirror called the ‘Fair Tips Charter’, the government has announced that it will take action to close the legal loophole. The loophole allows companies to use Tips and Service Charges to top up salaries to the minimum wage. Because of this, it should also see the eradication of a number of bad practices which are routinely applied by employers in pubs, restaurants and hotels.

Many unforeseen events can and do occur regularly in the catering and hospitality trade. Glasses and plates can be broken and some unscrupulous customers can sometimes walk out without paying the bill. Additionally, for one reason or another, the money in the till might not balance at the end of the night. The problem here is that many employers currently have policies in place which mean that waiting staff have to make up any shortfall for these kinds of things occurring by the employer making up the loss by taking it from the employees’ tips. However, under the ‘Fair Tips Charter’, Unite says that such deductions are immoral and should never be allowed to happen.

Employers Not Passing On Tips Paid by Card

Other examples Unite cite are where employers are taking a cut on money which has been left as a tip on a credit card or paid as a service charge on a menu. Although, legally the property is the employer’s to dispose of as they see fit, many employers see it as an opportunity to take a cut of the waiting staff tips for themselves and only pass on a proportion to their staff. Unite says that although this is permitted, employers don’t have to do it and that waiting staff should be entitled to all of the money that has been paid as tips. Along similar lines, employers justify these actions by charging waiting staff a fee for processing staff tips. This can be anything from between 8% and 15% of the money received. However, Unite says that there is no justification whatsoever for employers administering a fee.

Under the Fair Tips Charter, Unite recommend the following:

  • That employers pay at least the minimum wage with 100% of tips added on top as a bonus with no hidden charges.
  • That employers reach agreement with the staff directly affected as to how tips should be shared out .
  • That employers should make no deductions from tips or salaries to cover things such as till shortages, customer walk outs or breakages.
  • That the rules for the distribution of tips and service charges should be made available in writing for both staff and customers upon request.

Although the government back this campaign, at the time of writing, the charter has yet to be enshrined in law. More information about the Fair Tips Charter can be found at and on Unite’s website at

20 thoughts on “Can a Manager Take Tips When the Till is Down?

  1. Fifi says:

    If I leave a work place can my ex employer stop me getting my tips even though they’ve paid other ex employees in the passed?

  2. LJO says:

    I have just confronted my employer for stealing staff tips to cover till discrepancy’s and also the safe being down by £100, she denied it then admitted it and said she’s not bothered and I can tell who I like the area manager has quickly become involved I’ve handed in my notice but this company is a very big well known chain brand who have publicly said they give 100% tips to staff I want to name and.shame them what do I do next .

  3. Jeskina says:

    I work in a bar/restaurant and my employer will not let us split tips at the end of the day as he likes to do them himself. For three weeks worth of work I’ve been given £5 in tips from him, If we’ve had a good night we do split them on that evening (so we don’t loose out) we get £15 each easily. Is he legally allowed to do this ?

  4. Ash says:

    My employer takes from tips in 2 ways.. he takes from tips so his end of week balances, but on top of that, he takes the around £50 weekly out of tips, (he works with exel and his formula takes around £50 every week), but if the safe count is down by say, £67.30 at the end of the week, he takes more from varying days to balance his books.. but it is not stated anywhere that he does this, i only know this as i do the cashing up sometimes so i see it happening.. is it illegal for him to do this behind his employees backs? And customers for that matter?

  5. Bex says:

    Hi there I am a chef working in a Youngs pub. For the past 2 weeks we have had no tips and the 2 weeks before lower tips than normal. I have just found out today that the stock from the bar has been down. So the manger has been using the tip money to make it up. He did not inform any of us this would be happening. Is this legal ? What can I do about it ? Many thanks 🙂

  6. howsyourfather says:

    so I’ve just received an email from my manager saying that if tills are down the outstanding balance will be taken from tips now I think this is illegal. am I right in thinking that?

    • Safe Workers says:

      @howsyourfather – Yes it seems that an employer can make these reductions from tips as long you are informed about it. An employer can’t take more than 10% from your gross pay (pay before tax and National Insurance) each pay period to cover any shortfalls.

  7. Phil says:

    I work with autistic adults, 4 yrs ago I recivied an injury at work which as now caused me to be registered disabled, I have a condition called gastropariasis or intestinal failure, this means I am nowriting tube fed 7 days a week this treatment is called total parental nutrition. I have nurses 3 times a day 7 days a week also this is to administer all my anti sickness drugs as I feel nauseous all the time, plus any infusions I need due to to my body being unstable ie electrolytes blood count liver count etc, this illness as also lead to other illnesses both mentally and physically. I’ve been diagnosed with sever depression and ptsd and traumatic memory syndrome, I have a low immune system which is a bad thing as I’m always at risk of infection through my feeding tube as it’s in a main artery I’ve had sepsis in my brain which meant I spent time in hospital really ill. I also have a venting peg which is inserted through my stomach and comes out just above my belly button, I need this as a means of expelling any gas liquid or anything else unpleasant. I also vomit upto 30 times a day so my body weight as dropped a lot in total I’ve lost 13 stn in the first 10 months of reciting this injury. All this time my company will not aknolwadge this as it was due through not reciting the correct training I needed and asked for, now they want to sack me under capabilities, they’ve been told that it was the injury at work that’s caused this. Is there any type of compensation I’m intitled too, I’ve been told I’m never going to get better and my life expectancy is early 50s I’m 39, there is no cure and a transplant is very risky 79% die within the first 90 days then 65% of that die within the first 3 yrs. Sorry to ramble on and sorry if it doesn’t make sense but that’s another side effect

  8. sharricky says:

    hi, a littlle confusing. i used to work a 12 hour shift pattern, then a day job came up and i was told that i would not lose my shift allowance (not shift pay) as we would still cover shift with as much notice as possibe, which i do and this isnt a problem. Now the management are expecting me to cover emergency no notice cover on a weekend, and stating plans are not a good enough excuse to not cover, this would mean i have worked mon – fri and be expected to not drink or socialise as i may need to cover on a weekend ? can this be done ?

  9. ll2 says:

    The owner of no 1 restaurant in Hampton Court scooped and stole 90% of hard worker’s tips misleading customers in saying that all tips are shared among all waiters.. He has lied not only customers but possibly HMRC and who knows… Shame and disgrace to these people.

  10. Macca says:

    I recently left a restaurant in exeter and this was happening there often, some nights the till would be down £60.00 and our tips would be taken. Is this legal? Also when I left I did not get paid any of the tips or service charge but everyone else did, again is this legal. All the managers said I would get paid these amounts and yet nothing was in my pay packet. Any help or guidance would be appreciated. Thanks in advance

  11. nick says:

    Our daughter works in a local restaurant and last weekend the till was down £5 , she is one of several people that works there, the manager took the shortage from there tips, is this legal,

  12. Caz says:

    My daughter and her colleagues have been told by their manager that they cannot accept tips, because the till has been down, this has went on for over a month. They are already on minimum wage and this practice must surely be against working rights and principles? It is almost as if they are being accused of stealing without any proof of a perpetrator. I want to confront them , what can I do. The company also changed their uniforms and told them they also had to pay for the new one! I cannot believe how exploitative these companies are with young people, Regards Caz

    • Safe Workers says:

      @Caz – Advise your daughter & colleagues to talk to the manager and refer to the code of best practice (the charter mentioned in the above article). It may also be worth calling the Pay and Work Rights Helpline: 0800 917 2368 for free advice from Monday to Friday, 8am to 8pm and Saturday, 9am to 1pm

  13. confused says:

    This has been very helpful. My question is this, I’m doing extra hours in a resturant and my boss is taking my tips to cover the till when it’s not been down to me and the other person even admitted they made the mistake but due to the other person not making enough to cover it, it comes out of mine, what I really want to do is drop the extra hour but I need to know how it will affect my other job as its in the same place. Help needed asap please, thank you.

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