Government Rule Changes: What’s Happening to Restaurant Worker Tips?
A new Department of Labor proposal would change the system for tipping workers in the service industry, such as at restaurants.
The new rules would allow restaurants to pool all tips only on the condition that they pay their servers the minimum wage: $7.25 an hour. The idea is that the business would then share the pooled tips with all their employees, including cooks and dishwashers. Currently, restaurants are prohibited from pooling workers’ tips. There are rumors swirling that the new rules would allow employers to keep some of the worker’s tips, but it is unclear so far if that might actually happen.
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the median hourly wage for a restaurant server, counting tips, in 2016 was $9.61.
Anyone who has ever worked as a server, bartender, chef, or any other position in a restaurant has an opinion on tipping policies and most customers do as well. Having worked in the business myself, I found that pooling tips had some advantages and some disadvantages. It really depends on the particular restaurant, clientele, and circumstances.
Diners are the ones who keep restaurants in business, and they also have opinions. Many people feel if their server or bartender gives great service the tip should go directly to them and only them. Others feel that the people in the kitchen deserve a share of the money since they prepared the food.
We believe that food service workers are among the hardest-working people in America and we are in favor of any reasonable system that increases their overall compensation. If you are an employee ask your managers what is going to happen in your workplace and if you are in restaurant management we urge you to be upfront and transparent with your employees.
The good news is that the government is interested in your opinion and has opened a public comment period now through Feb. 5. To weigh in, visit the Federal Register’s website.