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It's Nat'l Waiters and Waitresses Day: 3 Tips for Bosses

By Daniel Taylor, Esq. on May 21, 2014 | Last updated on March 21, 2019

Attention bar and restaurant owners: Today is National Waiters and Waitresses Day. So you may want to send your staff an e-mail or speak with them individually and let them know how much you appreciate their hard work.

And while we're on the subject, today might also be a good day to brush up on your knowledge of employee rights, not just for waiters and waitresses, but for everyone on your staff.

Here are three employment-law tips that are definitely worth remembering:

1. Tipped Employees' Earnings Must Equal or Exceed the Minimum Wage.

You may know that under federal law, an employee who qualifies as a "tipped employee" (meaning they receive more than $30 in tips a month) can be paid as low as $2.13 an hour, more than $5 below the federal minimum wage of $7.25 an hour. (Some states have set the minimum wage for tipped workers even higher.) However, there's a catch: if the employee's total tips and salary fail to equal the minimum wage, you as the employer must make up the difference.

Under federal law, employers using this "tip credit" to pay less than minimum wage also must provide notice of the following information to their employees:

  • The amount of wage the employer will pay,
  • The amount the employer will credit against tips,
  • Notification that the tip credit will not exceed the value of tips received,
  • Notification that the tip credit can be used only if the employee has been informed of the Fair Labor Standards Act's tip credit rules, and
  • Notification that all tips received must be retained by the employee, except when collected for a valid tip pool.

Remember these are just the federal rules; there may also be state-specific rules depending on where you are located.

2. You Must Provide a Safe Workplace.

No employer wants to maintain an unsafe workplace necessarily, but sometimes safety can get put on the back burner when other, seemingly more pressing issues are at hand. However, it's good to remember that there is a minimum level of safety that all workplaces must maintain under federal law.

Under these rules, any hazards must be identified, eliminated or at least minimized. Employees must be notified of hazards, provided the training to address them, and (if the hazards cannot be eliminated) provided protective gear at no cost to them. In addition, employers must keep a record of all work-related injuries and post a list of injuries and any Occupational Safety and Health Administration citations in a place where employees can see them.

3. Know Your State's Overtime Laws.

Like minimum wage, overtime laws vary from state to state. Generally, however, any time most hourly employees work more than 40 hours in a week, they must be paid at least one-and-a-half times their usual wage. In some states, such as California, employees must be paid overtime for any hours worked over eight in a single day.

Certain salaried employees are typically exempt from overtime rules, including those working in highly-specialized or professional fields (e.g., lawyers, physicians, musicians), executives or other supervisors who are considered "the boss," and airline employees. But it's best to make sure you know who's who before you short someone overtime pay.

Treat your staff right and they'll hopefully return the favor. After all, Boss's Day is just a couple of months away.

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