Friday, July 24, 2009

Restore the Minimum Wage for Tipped Workers

Today, the federal minimum increased to $7.25 an hour; however, not all workers will enjoy a raise. The federal minimum wage for tipped employees - waitresses, nail salon workers, car wash attendants, to name a few – has been frozen at $2.13 an hour since 1991.

The result has been to drag down the pay for tipped workers, the overwhelming majority of which are adult women, many supporting families. They are hurt the most by the frozen minimum wage, which is an under-appreciated factor in the unequal pay that working women continue to receive.

Thirty-two states have preserved or adopted stronger protections for tipped workers, and by 2010 over half of those will guarantee tipped workers 60% of the full minimum wage. This is the level of protection that the federal minimum wage provided tipped workers until 1989.

Pennsylvania is one of that states that requires stronger protections for tipped workers. In the Commonwealth, tipped workers receive $2.83 an hour and an employer must make up the difference if the employee’s tips with the $2.83 per hour do not meet the federal minimum wage.

Congress and the remaining states need to restore protections for the millions of tipped workers by:

  • Raising the tipped worker minimum wage
  • Making the tipped worker minimum wage increase automatically when the full minimum wage increases
  • Strengthening protections against "tip stealing" to ensure that managers or employers do not skim off a portion of workers' tips
  • Fighting attempts to roll back tipped worker minimum wages in states that already provide strong protections for these workers.

For more information please see that National Employment Law Project’s new report, Restoring the Minimum Wage for American’s Tipped Workers.

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