Any restaurant that serves alcohol should make sure its staff is trained in and has received the TIPS Certification. This program teaches waitstaff and bar employees how to recognize when a patron has had too much to drink. It guides them in how to deal with intoxicated customers, and it helps protect restaurant owners from potential lawsuits that might stem from alcohol-related accidents and incidents.
Some states, such as Utah, require that all employees who serve alcoholic beverages must undergo some type of alcohol service safety training.
What Is TIPS Certification?
TIPS stands for Training for Intervention Procedures. It gives advice on how to identify if someone has had too much to drink, and how to deal with them effectively if that is the case. It also helps to identify those who aren't yet old enough to be drinking alcohol.
Why Should You Have Your Staff TIPS Certified
There are many benefits in training your waitstaff in the TIPS program, including added protection against alcohol liability lawsuits. This can, in turn, lower your insurance premiums. It might even improve customer service. At a minimum, you and your staff will have a better understanding of both local and state liquor laws.
How Can You Set up a TIPS Certification at Your Restaurant?
You can find and contact a local TIPS trainer through the TIPS website. The trainer can come to your location and will give a three to a five-hour training session before administering the certification test. You can also send your employees to attend TIPS training at another location.
A third option is eTIPS, an online TIPS training course that allows employees to work at their own pace. All you have to do is purchase an eTIPS training passport for each employee you want to have alcohol training. They can't all use the same computer simultaneously as a group. Each must sign on for training independently.
Not all states accept the online version of TIPS certification, although the number is growing. It's up to 44 as of 2018. Make sure to check with your local alcohol licensing agency for more information about the rules and regulations applicable to TIPS certification in your area.
How Much Does TIPS Certification Cost?
Cost depends on the type of program you want to offer. It ranges from between $15 and $40 per employee. The online course is $40 per person as of 2018. In some states, public health agencies offer TIPS and similar training programs free of charge to employers as a way to ensure better public safety. Contact your local state liquor enforcement agency to find out if yours is one of them.
Do I Have to Pay My Employees to Attend a TIPS Certification?
If you require that your restaurant staff attend TIPS training in order to work at your restaurant, then, yes, you should pay them. Remember that all your staff must be paid the full state minimum wage so if they're attending a TIPS training, you can't just pay them the tipped minimum wage. After all, they won't have an opportunity to earn tips during the time they're in training so you should make up the difference.