The United States is one of the most prosperous countries in the world. Yet millions of people in the nation are living with intolerable wages.
According to the National Employment Law Project, as many as 4.3 million Americans are working in tipped jobs. The bulk of these jobs are related to restaurant work, such as busboys and servers, but these also cover airport attendants, valets and similar occupations.
The problem stems from the fact that tipped workers are somehow exempt from minimum wage laws as stated in the Federal Fair Labor Standards Act. This means that tipped workers aren’t even making the standard $7 per hour. This is already woefully inadequate when compared to current inflation but tipped workers are only guaranteed $2.13 per hour.
Tipped workers should not have to scrape by when they are some of the hardest working employees in the country.
Here are six compelling reasons for tipped jobs to start receiving federal minimum wage.
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Tipped Workers Live in Poverty
Despite the law stating that if tips aren’t enough to make up the difference between the $2.13 per hour and the federal minimum wage then the employer covers it, many tipped workers are living below the poverty line.
According to analysis from the Economy Policy Institute, 14 percent of all tipped workers who only make $2.13 an hour are living in poverty. Furthermore, 18.5 percent of waitstaff and bar employees who only make the same amount are in poverty as well. The exemption of tipped employees has led to hundreds of thousands of people making ends meet despite working very hard every day.
Reduce Dependence on Government Aid
Another compelling reason tipped jobs should start receiving the same minimum wage as all other careers is this can help alleviate reliance on government aid. This reliance is caused by the disproportionate number of tipped employees who live in poverty.
Many tipped workers have to regularly rely on nutrition assistance or other federal aid benefits just to provide for themselves and their families.
According to some experts, ensuring that tipped employees get an increased minimum wage can save billions on government assistance every year. This is because they can start paying for their own food, medical bills and other needs without having to go to the government for help.
Tipping is Often Prejudiced
Despite there being laws that are supposed to ensure customers pay standard gratuity, studies have shown that prejudices can and do affect how much money they leave their servers.
Some people may attempt to cover their racism, sexism or homophobia by claiming their low or nonexistent tips are the result of inferior service. But a study has shown that Black service providers regularly receive less tips than their white counterparts.
Since tips form the bulk of their wages, this has a direct effect on their quality of life, education and nutrition. Ensuring that they receive minimum wage can prevent aid many people of color and other discriminated populations rise from poverty.
Tipping is Irregular
Tipped workers do not enjoy the same sense of financial security as other employees. Tips are not only dependent on the perceived quality of their service but also on how many customers arrive, whether these customers are in a large party and so on.
The lack of financial security prevents tipped workers from making certain plans for themselves. It’s much harder to decide whether to send a loved one to college if you aren’t sure if you can afford food in the next week.
Everyone deserves to feel secure in their finances and ensuring minimum wage can help reduce the anxiety of millions of Americans.
Most Tipped Workers aren’t Students
One of the largest misconceptions regarding the nature of tipped workers is that most of them are underage or part-time students. Although young employees and part-time students do form a major population among tipped workers, the truth is more tipped employees are adults who have to support themselves or others.
Jobs like airport attendant, bartender and similar occupations are most likely not going to be handed to minors. These people need the money guaranteed by the federal minimum wage to take care of their families.
Tipped Workers are Essential
Finally, many people do not want to acknowledge just how crucial tipped employees are to the economy and to everyday life.
Without waiters and busboys, restaurants are going to be very inconvenient and chaotic affairs. Parking can suddenly become more difficult without garage attendants and valets to organize arriving vehicles. \
Tipped workers provide crucial assistance to you and countless people and yet they aren’t compensated properly for their hard work.
The fact that tipped workers do not receive federal minimum wage has led to great injustices in the economy. Wage theft, poverty and countless other issues can be solved by removing tipped jobs from the exempted classifications in the Federal Fair Labor Standards Act.