Service workers such as waitstaff, bartenders and housekeepers often receive tips from customers. Without these tips, a worker may not be able to earn a sufficient income to keep themselves afloat financially, especially in today’s economy. Still, there are special wage and hour laws that apply specifically to tipped workers regarding their pay.
Minimum wage and tipped employees
All employees, including tipped employees, deserve to be paid the minimum wage. However, employers in Florida are permitted to pay tipped workers $7.98 per hour rather than the $11.00 per hour minimum as long as the workers earn sufficient tips to bring their hourly pay up to the $11.00 minimum wage.
This does not violate state or federal wage and hour laws. This is because employers must make up the difference themselves if a tipped worker does not earn sufficient tips to meet the state’s minimum wage. This way, a tipped worker is guaranteed to earn at least $11.00 per hour.
Tip credits and worker pay
Federal and Florida law state that tips earned are the property of the worker who earned them, and employers are not permitted to keep some or all of a worker’s tips for themselves.
However, tip credits are allowed. A tip credit is based on a percentage of tips the worker earns that the employer uses to meet the minimum wage requirement. Tip credits may seem unfair, but they do not violate federal and state wage and hour laws.
Tip pooling is permitted
Federal law permits employers to require tipped workers to share a percentage of their tips in a common pool that is shared between other tipped workers. However, workers who do not receive tips cannot receive a share of the money in the tip pool, and the tips placed in the tip pool do not count toward the tip credit.
Managers and supervisors also cannot receive a share of the money in the tip pool, although they can contribute money to the tip pool if they so wish. However, if they earn tips themselves for services rendered solely by themselves, they are allowed to keep those tips for themselves.
Are tipping laws fair?
Tipped workers may believe some tipping laws are unfair. They might believe they deserve to keep all their tips and that tip credits and tip pooling should not be allowed. Still, these practices do not violate federal and Florida law, and for now at least are permitted. That being said, workers who believe these laws were violated by their employers may have grounds for a wage and hour dispute.