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Quebec restaurant association calls for legalized tip sharing to attract workers

In the current economy, getting people to want to work in the restaurant industry can be a hard sell.

One of the job’s perks is tips, but they don’t go to everyone equally.

“The legislation is quite clear about who tip money belongs to,” said Roger Costa, managing partner at Weinstein & Gavino’s.

Under Quebec’s Employment Standards Act, tip money goes to the servers, and the cash can’t be shared with other employees like cooks unless staff agree.

The Quebec association that represents restaurants wants to change that and is lobbying the provincial government so tips can be more evenly shared to attract more back-of-house staff.

Costa says that while kitchen staff will be happy, it will be hard to convince servers who rely on the extra 15 per cent.

“If you take from Paul to pay Peter, well, you’ve upset Paul,” said Costa.

On average, back-of-house staff make around 12 per cent less than servers even though they’re paid a higher hourly wage.

Some restaurants, however, already share tips between front and back-of-house and say it’s done little to fix their staffing shortages.

“There’s inflation and a shortage of labour, and, every month, it seems to get more and more difficult for business owners,” said Canadian Federation of Independent Business (CFIB) vice-president Francois Vincent.

The CFIB said the situation has only gotten worse over the summer, with 65 per cent of Quebec restaurants remaining short-staffed at 10 per cent higher than the national average.

“It is the sector that has the highest job vacancy rate and by far,” said Vincent.

Costa said the answer is giving back-of-house staff a raise instead of pooling tips.

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