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The call for a tipped employee tier remains strong

Chances are good that whenever you go to sit-down restaurants and the check finally arrives that you don’t spend a significant amount of time thinking about tips, perhaps just going by a standard percentage or only briefly weighing the quality of the service.

There are several groups, however, that have devoted a considerable amount of time and energy thinking about tips, including both local restaurant managers and the Minnesota Restaurant Association.

Specifically, these parties are continuing to urge state lawmakers to pass a law creating a so-called tipped employee tier, which they argue would ease some of the financial strain put on small, family-owned restaurants by the state’s new minimum wage laws.

To recap, minimum wage here in Minnesota, which has several levels, has recently undergone some considerable changes thanks to the action of the legislature. Indeed, employees of large businesses are currently being paid at least $8 per hour and employees of small businesses are currently being paid at least $6.50 per hour. These amounts will continue to increase through August 2016.

Under a tipped employee tier, minimum wage would be permanently set at $8 per hour for those employees who earn a minimum of $4 per hour in tips. Furthermore, those employees who didn’t earn this amount in tips would instead receive the standard minimum wage.

According to its proponents, the tipped employee tier would serve to save restaurants money and, by extension, not force them to cut back on positions.

Critics argue, however, that it would be unfair to those employees with less experience and minimize the idea that a tip is something awarded for exemplary service.

It remains to be seen whether lawmakers will revisit this issue during the next legislative session. It’s worth noting that a bill creating a tipped employee tier was actually passed by the state House back in March and packaged in a larger omnibus bill that was ultimately vetoed by Governor Dayton.

What are your thoughts on this issue? Do you want to see a tipped employee tier created?

If you are an employee with wage and hour concerns — minimum wage violations, unpaid overtime, employee misclassification — consider consulting with an experienced legal professional as soon as possible to learn more about enforcing your rights.

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