Tip System Intact In N.Y., But Laundry Changes Hands

Foodservice employees have been left holding the laundry bag in New York. In an order issued by New York State’s Wage Board concerning the minimum wage and how large a role tips should play in paying staff, the board relieved operators from paying for laundering uniforms if they are wash-and-wear style.

But laundry was just a small detail in the Hospitality Industry Wage Order issued last month by the Empire State’s Department of Labor and effective Jan. 1. Workers will continue to be paid under the longstanding system whereby restaurants can combine a lower hourly wage with tips to satisfy the state’s minimum-wage requirement. Unions had been seeking to require restaurants pay workers full minimum wage of $7.25 per hour, with future increases. The labor dept. did approve a 35-cent increase, with cash wages rising from $4.65 to $5, over a two-year period, but then accelerated that change to a two-week period. Operators were granted leeway to make necessary payroll changes by Feb. 28 and pay wages retroactive to Jan. 1.

The decision also allows employers to decide whether tip “sharing” or “pooling” takes place within their establishment. Previously, operators could mandate tip sharing but not tip pooling. The new rules also define the job categories that are eligible for shares in tips from the dining room and generally limit the pool to service workers in the dining room who interact with customers directly, such as waiters, or indirectly, such as servers or busboys. Kitchen staff cannot share in the tip pool, but bartenders, who prepare beverages for the dining room in a role similar to that of a cook, may do so.

Check out the new rules.  “””

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