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Waiter, waitress or server, tip credit can be a hard reality, especially in today's economy.Posted Tuesday, July 7, 2009, at 7:53 PM
Many years ago I was in the restaurant business and learned to deal with a thing called "tip credit". This is a Federal program that allows employers to use tips earned by a server and apply it to their minimum wage. As I understand it, the minimum wage will become $7.25 per hour this July 24th.
To some this may sound like a lot, but based on a 40 hour week and working all 52 weeks a year this comes out to just over $15,000 a year. When I think of it that way, I do not see how most people make ends meet, but consider tip credit and more importantly the abuse of the tip credit program by employers and it becomes a crime.
I was constantly battling high payroll percentages with corporate (although I doubt any of my employees thought it was high). I originally bought the company line that if the servers were not making good tips, it was their fault, but it did not take long to "open my eyes". Tips rely on many things that are not always in the control of the server.
Was the food cooked well, was the restaurant too warm, to cold, too noisy, was the food late in coming, and accurate? The server can influence some of these factors but management needs to look hard at all factors before they decide who is to blame.
Then we have the customers. Do they realize that the server is often working for tips just to make minimum wage? Do they tip a minimum, just 'because' or do they tip for the quality of service they get from that individual?
Before I worked in food service I was guilty of being very erratic and downright cheap with my tips. Now, I can get mediocre food yet tip the server 18-20% if they did their best and were friendly.
If the server is running all over the place, because management only scheduled a skeleton shift, why should I penalize the server? If I see a bus outside, I know what to expect and can go somewhere else, but if I stay and things are a bit slow, can I take it out on the server by holding back tips?
I don't tip the same for buffets and if I get downright poor service, it is reflected in my tips, so I am not saying they can do no wrong, but is there anyone else out there that thinks if we want to eat out and ask someone to wait on us, we should be willing to say thanks with our pocketbook?
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Steve Mills and his wife have one daughter. They previously owned two coffee/ice cream shops, currently operate an internet sales company and teach classes, but his primary job involves the paper industry worldwide. Hobbies and interests lie in gardening, photography, recorded music and of course, their pets.
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