As the president looks to raise the national minimum wage, tipped employees who make around $2.13 an hour are asking for a raise too. Along with the initiative to raise the overall minimum wage to $10.10 an hour, tipped restaurant employees will be raised to $7.07 an hour, if these measures pass of course.
I have seen a myriad of articles discussing the negative and positive implications of a raise in the server wage. Most negative implications should be overlooked as an increase in tipped minimum wage will lift many lower class citizens, especially single mothers, out of poverty, and will not have a major financial impact on consumers. For years, the service industry has been dominated by women, and over 70% of servers in poverty are women. Personally, working in urban and suburban restaurants provided me with more than enough money to live (because I worked through college for spending money) but it still hurt when people didn’t tip me at all because I did not receive a paycheck from my employer, and because I was still responsible to pay tip pool to the bussers, bartenders, and other staff at the end of the shift. Receiving no tip meant paying the tip share out of pocket.
But, raising the tipped minimum wage will also help business, not just workers. One tangible benefit for business owners and restaurant employees will be mutual respect. I have worked in a number of restaurants, and can say that workers do not respect their managers and managers do not respect their workers. Servers are treated as replaceable employees and can be fired at any given time for any given reason. Servers are also asked to do additional tasks around the restaurant, which they are not being compensated for.
With little respect for the establishment, and without a feeling of value in a company, servers often turn to theft to combat their lost wages. You might think this is a rare occurrence, but it is so common that I would bet an overwhelming majority of restaurant employees have committed some form of theft. Maybe a bartender doesn’t ring in a drink and pockets the change, maybe a server has an appetizer removed from a bill in order to receive a larger tip from a guest, maybe a server rings in the highest priced alcohol to boost the included gratuity on big parties.
No matter the reasoning, this is theft, and it largely stems from negative feelings tipped employees have towards their employers. If there is no respect for the worker, the worker will have no respect their employer. These disrespected and underpaid workers will not feel guilty, and may even feel justified in stealing from the restaurant or the customers. Why would workers have any motivation to work towards corporate goals, participate in additional tasks, or go above and beyond in their jobs when their corporation tells them their value is $2.13 an hour? Wouldn’t you steal, lie, and cheat?
The bottom line is, if you want to run a restaurant with less turnover, less theft, and happy employees working towards company goals, pay servers for their work. They deserve it!