Connecticut Restaurant Guidebook 2023 Edition Preview: Part One - CT TIP CREDIT 101
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This post is part of a series of articles previewing the unique type of information and guidance contained in the Pullman & Comley Hospitality Team’s “Connecticut Restaurant Guidebook 2023 Edition.” Available to members of the Connecticut Restaurant Association, this publication is essential reading for anyone who owns or operates a restaurant. Today’s posting incorporates content from the guidebook’s section on tips and tip credits. Follow Pullman & Comley’s Instagram page as we countdown to the release of the Connecticut Restaurant Guidebook 2023 Edition.

**Instagram Pop Quiz answer: Working the grill is NOT work incidental to service.

Over the past several years, the concept of what is - and what is not - “service work” or “side work” has continued to evolve. While the current tip credit regulations have been in effect since 2020, many restaurateurs are still uncertain as to Connecticut’s tip credit laws. To help ensure proper implementation of the tip credit, restaurateurs must follow these three steps:

STEP ONE: DEFINE SERVICE EMPLOYEES. As only service employees are eligible to be paid the tipped wage, restaurateurs must first understand who is - and is not - a service employee. Service employees are defined as any employee who: (1) performs duties that solely relate to the serving of food and/or beverages to patrons seated at tables or booths, and duties incidental to such services; and (2) customarily receives gratuities. This definition specifically excludes employees working at the counter of a quick service establishment, food runners, and baristas. "Back of House" staff responsible for cooking are also not considered service employees. 

STEP TWO: UNDERSTAND SERVICE-RELATED DUTIES. According to the Connecticut Department of Labor, the following tasks are considered duties incidental to such service of food and beverages to patrons seated at tables or booths:

  • Taking orders from patrons for food or beverages;
  • Checking with customers to ensure that they are enjoying their meals and taking action to correct any problems;
  • Checking patrons' identification to ensure that they met minimum age requirements for consumption of alcoholic beverages;
  • Collecting payments from customers;
  • Writing patrons' food orders on order slips, memorizing orders, or entering orders into computers for transmittal to kitchen staff;
  • Preparing checks that itemize and total meal costs and sales taxes;
  • Presenting menus to patrons and answering questions about menu items, making recommendations upon request;
  • Removing dishes and glasses from tables or counters and taking them to the kitchen for cleaning;
  • Serving food or beverages to patrons, and preparing or serving specialty dishes at tables as required;
  • Cleaning tables or counters after patrons have finished dining;
  • Preparing tables for meals, including setting up items such as linens, silverware, and glassware;
  • Escorting customers to their tables;
  • Cleaning tables and floors in service employee's immediate service area before, during, or after serving patrons;
  • Cleaning and tidying up server stations and drink stations;
  • Informing customers of daily specials;
  • Preparing hot, cold, and mixed drinks for patrons, including brewing coffee and chilling bottles of wine;
  • Rolling silverware, setting up food stations, or setting up dining areas to prepare for the next shift or for large parties;
  • Stocking service areas with supplies such as coffee, food, tableware, and linens;
  • Bringing wine selections to tables with appropriate glasses, and pouring wines for customers;
  • Filling salt, pepper, sugar, cream, condiment, and napkin containers;
  • Describing and recommending wines to customers; and
  • Garnishing and decorating dishes in preparation for serving.

If your server performs any of the above-noted tasks and customarily receives gratuities, you may pay them the Connecticut tip credit rate of $6.38 without segregating duties or filling out tip credit forms.

STEP THREE: SEEK SAFE HARBOR. If your employee performs both service and non-service duties, the employer must segregate the hours worked on the time card and pay for each differently ONLY IF those non-service duties constitute twenty (20) percent or more of the server’s shift, or if these duties are performed for two hours or more (whichever is the lower number controls). This safe harbor provision was enacted specifically to prevent service employees from having to punch-in and punch-out every time they cut a lime or roll silverware. This safe harbor provision was one of several reforms enacted by the Connecticut legislature in response to a series of predatory class action lawsuits filed against restaurateurs over the past few years.

Continue checking Pullman Comley’s Instagram for the next 2023 Restaurant Guidebook Preview, and for more in-depth analysis, follow the Working Together blog. See you at the 2023 CRAzies!

Posted in Hospitality

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