Can You Take More Than You Make

Waiters and waitresses can have an intense and fast paced job. They see all sorts of people everyday and usually don’t have to worry about ever being hungry. Most people think that this is the ideal job for a college student. There are many laws and regulations that a wait staff member has to follow in order to be successful and law abiding.
What is its context?
A waitron is usually seen in a restaurant but can be seen in an array of different settings. Some are seen as a cocktail waitress in a bar, some serve meals at a truck stop and some are seen in an upscale five start restaurant in uptown Manhattan. The waiting part of being a waiter or a waitress doesn’t come into effect though until you are actually serving a person. When a person is sitting down to dine at any restaurant they are usually doing so because they want good food, to be served instead of serving others or themselves or they want to enjoy another persons’ company. Whatever the reason, this is where a wait staffs’ position comes into play.
What does it involve?
A waiter has a very specific job. When the customers are seated the waiter must offer them a beverage and after waiting a few minutes they must take the tables’ order. The order is sent to the kitchen and this is where the real job begins. The waiter is suppose to bring out the customers’ food in a timely manner, the way the customer ordered it, and make sure it’s hot when the customer receives it. In between taking out the meals the waiter also has to make sure that the customer always has a full drink, get to-go boxes, and tally up the bill. A customer also likes to see that their waiter or waitress is clean because these are the people they see with their food.
Juridic Controls and Laws~
There actually aren’t any strong juridic controls when it comes to being a waiter or a waitress. There are some laws and rules, but they don’t necessarily all apply to this profession. Some of the basic laws or rules are:
• A waiter or waitress must claim all their tips at the end of every shift. By claiming their tips they write down how much they made during each shift in a designated folder. This folder has all the waitrons names are listed and they can keep track of every ones’ tips. This way the IRS can tax them on the tips that you bring home after every shift that hadn’t been previously taxed.
~If all the tips aren’t claimed there can be an audit from the IRS.
~Currently waitrons in the state of Montana make $6.15 an hour plus tips. This is much better than it is in other states. However; right now it is at a freeze, which means that it won’t go up any higher. If the minimum wage goes up anymore waitrons pay will remain at $6.15 an hour because they get tips.
• Waiters or waitrons must have a certified Food Handlers Card.
~It varies in which state you live in as to whether the wait staff has to each have their own.
• Waiters and waitresses must be clean and shouldn’t come in skin to food contact with the food.
~This depends on what the restaurants’ expectations of their wait staff is. As scary as it sounds many waitrons don’t have to wear gloves while they are putting the food on trays to take out to the customer. Often the cooks won’t either because their gloves would melt in the heat or the gloves that aren’t flammable are too bulky to wear while trying to prepare a meal.
• Employees must wash hands before returning to work.
~These are the signs you see in many restrooms in restaurants.
Most of these laws are carried out in a different manner depending on which state you live in.
These are the rules that most people dining in a restaurant would like to see happen as well as the management of the restaurant. They are considered penalties towards a restaurant if they are not carried out as they are suppose to.
Claiming Your Tips
Claiming your tips is the most significant of the juridic controls in this field. Some employers pay you minimum wage, while others pay you half or take a chunk out of the minimum wage and let you make up the rest in tips. In some states you don’t have to share your tips at all if you are only getting a portion of the minimum wage. A wait staffs’ tips however, must always be claimed. Failure to do so will result in being audited.
Not claiming tips doesn’t make a waiter or waitress a bad person. Unless a wait staff member gets caught there is no way to track and know if the tips weren’t claimed. A wait staff could even only claim a portion of their tips and unless they had been caught or audited there is no way of knowing how to track a certain person. The point is that most waiters and waitresses claim their tips and this is because they may feel obligated, want to abide by the law, or they are afraid of getting caught. Any wait staff could easily cheat their way through the system, but they don’t. They choose not to because they know that it is the right thing to do. By claiming their tips they are following the law, and they may come out ahead when it comes time to files for taxes. If a waitron does a great ob they will get tipped well and they will get taxed on their tips, but they will still make more than others waitrons in their same job. In most restaurant settings the boss doesn’t stand over the employees to make sure that they are claiming all their tips.
Abiding by the Law
Though there are ways to get around this system it hasn’t seemed to be a huge problem. The IRS is a big government team and if they were having huge problems with people not claiming their tips they might have a better system to make sure waiters and waitresses were abiding the law. The IRS has many employees, but not enough people and money to try and make sure people are obeying the law at all times. They also don’t waste anytime on finding people to go after. Why would making sure people are claiming their tips be any different?

The only way to avoid these juridic controls would be to avoid the restaurant business all together. A person would have to find jobs outside the food industry because there will always be the health code laws that have to be abided by. If they are a waiter or waitress they would have to claim their tips. These are laws that aren’t only found in the intermountain areas. This is a national law; a person must claim their tips. This is a law that a person can’t avoid unless they lie and cheat the system or boycott restaurants.
However; many people do still get away with not claiming their tips. Whatever the reason behind their choice; the fact that they claim their tips shows that they are making a decision; to abide by the law and claim their tips. They don’t have to, but they do because maybe in the long run they will get more back when the file for taxes.

Revised Spring 2008, Cellmer

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