Tips are not house money. Tips should only be shared with waiters, waitresses, bussers, runners, and other front of the house workers who deal with customers.
Many of the lawsuits against restaurants arise from management dipping into gratuities left by customers for their servers. Common mistakes made by restaurants with tips include: taking a percentage of the tips from the waitstaff; sharing tips with the kitchen; putting a manager in the tip pool; and having servers kick in cash every shift for a dishwasher to scrape plates. The penalties for skimming tips are severe, as the restaurant may have to pay back the tips, pay penalties, and lose the “tip credit.” Restaurant owners need to think of tips as kryptonite – stay away.