The Official Gazette, the official journal and publication of the government of Costa Rica, recently published the Ministry of Labor’s new regulations on the tipping laws, which regulate the payment of tips to restaurant waiters, waitresses, and busboys.  Following are important regulations to bear in mind when implementing a tipping policy.

The new regulations establish that the full tip amounts should be delivered directly and made available to the waiting staff.  In a practical sense, this would mean that the tips can no longer be shared among other employees, especially in cases where two or more employees are responsible for waiting on the tables.  Accordingly, employers should avoid any tip-sharing schemes.

Further, restaurants are no longer allowed to make deductions from the waiters’ or busboys’ tips.  Accordingly, any taxes on service (e.g., fee on the use of glassware) cannot affect the amount of tips that the waiters or busboys receive.

The new regulations also set forth the timing for the payment of tips, which in part will be contingent upon the payment method used by customers, as well as the obligation for employers to agree with their employees on a payment system to control any tips earned by each employee.

The government authorities, as well as waiters and busboys, may request a report on the employer’s compliance with the tipping law.  Accordingly, restaurants should adopt all necessary measures to be in full compliance with these new requirements, which became effective on May 6, 2014, the date of the publication in the Gazette.