Proposed Rule Could Allow Businesses to Require Workers to Share Tip Wages
On Monday (Dec. 4) the United States Department of Labor issued a news release that could change the restaurant industry to a point where servers won't want to be servers anymore.
The department announced a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking that would let businesses allow tip sharing among more than just the employees who actively receive them from customers - servers and bartenders would probably be the most affected group of workers. Currently, this option is restricted due to a law passed in 2011.
The reason for this proposal, according to the news release, is to help bridge the gap between tipped and non-tipped workers - essentially the 'back of house' workers like dish washers and cooks. Per the release:
These “back of the house” employees contribute to the overall customer experience, but may receive less compensation than their traditionally tipped co-workers.
According to the Washington Post, the rule would only apply to businesses that pay tipped employees at least the federal minimum wage, which is currently $7.25. These restaurants would have the ability to make sharing tips a mandatory practice.
While many businesses applaud the potential change in policy, many workers have also voiced their opinion saying this could open the door for businesses to retain tips because they are paying the federal minimum wage.
As a former server and bartender, I feel for this rule. Minimum wage is just that - the BARE MINIMUM - and it's no secret this wage is NOT necessarily a livable wage in all parts of the country. In my early twenties, my tip money was my 'living money'. I'm sure a lot of people can say the same thing.
But! I also understand that 'back of house' workers deserve fair compensation as well. They're pretty responsible for the diner's experience as well. In my opinion, I would think that they should be getting slightly higher wages to offset the tip workers - but that may be asking too much (I guess).
Either way, whether you agree or not with the proposed change, you can voice your opinion with the United State Labor Department for the next 30 days (starting on December 5).