By Diana Danh ’17
over minimum wage for tipped and untipped employees have been around ever since the creation of the federal wages.
According to the American federal government, wages of at least $2.13 per hour are paid to employees who receive at least $30 per month in tips. This law is active in 17 states; however, due to different situations and states laws, the wages vary among the restaurants and the employers. If wages and tips do not equal the federal minimum wage of $7.25 per hour during any pay period, the employer is required to increase cash wages to compensate. However, this rarely happens and the employee ends up losing money rather than earning.
Tipped workers are fighting for their wages to be raised to equal those of untipped wages. Tipped workers claim that they don’t receive money in return after taxes and barely have enough money to put food on the table.
According to MotherJones, a news outlet, Anna Hovland worked a job as a waitress earlier this year to make ends meet. Her restaurant in Washington, DC, paid her the local minimum wage for tipped workers, $2.77 an hour, which meant that after taxes, her paycheck was usually zero on May 12.
In New York, the minimum wage is currently $8.75 an hour and is scheduled to go up to $9 on December 31, 2015. This is the first state-mandated raise they’ve had since 2011.
“When you’re working for $5 an hour, that’s basically just food money for the month,” Ondre Anderson told New York Times on February 24. He added that he had hoped to earn enough to move from a homeless shelter in Queens into an apartment. Mr. Anderson said he figured he would earn about $75 more a week after the increase. “Every little bit does help,” he said.
However, the small raise in minimum wage isn’t enough to support oneself. The Economic Policy Institute found in 2011 that tipped workers are more than twice as likely as other workers to fall under the federal poverty line.
Some have suggested to follow other customs and add tip into the bill instead of allowing the customer to give how much they choose, have this system often confuses people who aren’t used to that type of service. This would require a cultural shift in American society. In most European countries tipping is not the custom. There’s a service fee included in every bill.
Tips aren’t enough because of the their variances from customer to customer. Many stories of waiters getting fake dollar bills or smiley faces have gone viral. Until the federal government raises the minimum wages for both untipped and tipped to be equal, be mindful of your tip and give as much as you can.