The inquirer works in a restaurant where customers usually tip though they are not obligated to do so. The owner of the restaurant collects all the tips intended for the staff. Please note that a customer would not leave a tip if he knew that the owner will take it. For this reason, some staff members resort to hiding the tips from the owner. Is this permissible? And is it permissible for the owner to take the tips from his employees?
Allah prohibited consuming another's property unlawfully and the Prophet [pbuh] demonstrated that a Muslim's property is sacred except with his consent. It is known that an employee, like his employer, is financially independent. The employee works for remuneration and the contract between him and his employer does not specify that he [the owner] take any money that his employees receive; theirs is not a master-slave relationship such that it can be said that the master is entitled to his slave's money. Rather, the employee must do his work and the owner must give him his salary. There is nothing entitling the owner to take his staff's tips, which the customers consider a charity, zakat, or a gift. This is money gained unlawfully since the tip is intended for the staff and not the owner and since the customer would not be pleased with it if he learns that the owner took the tips for himself.
By the same argument, it is not permissible for the employee to take anything from the customer's check.
It is legally permissible for the employee to conceal any tips he receives if he fears that the restaurant owner will take them. It is impermissible for the owner to appropriate the tips as long as the customer or employee does not give them to him of their own will in which case it is considered money gained unlawfully and he must refrain from taking it.
Allah Almighty knows best