In South Dakota, the minimum wage was recently increased to $9.30 an hour, just over two dollars more than the federal minimum wage of $7.25. $9.30 still isn’t high enough but compared to other Midwest states, it’s not bad. But that’s not the point here.
Employees deemed as “tipped employees” can be paid as little as $2.13 an hour from their employer. Several states have increased that minimum on their own; in South Dakota, it is $4.65 an hour. But how does one live on $4.65 an hour?
They rely on tips from customers. There are several reasons why this MESSED UP.
I worked as a server for six years, starting at 15-years-old. I put myself through college on that money. I bought my car on that money. For me, it was mostly a part-time job, especially once I found an office job on campus my first year at USD.
I have first-hand experience with how tough it is for tipped employees. Customers can be flat out rude, disrespectful and unruly. $4.65 an hour is not enough to deal with that.
Tipped employees — think servers, bartenders, hairdressers etc. — are often forced to be overly kind and understanding to customers disrespecting them just so they can pay their bills at the end of the day.
I loved serving. But it was sometimes demeaning how much hard work it took to be tipped from certain customers.
Other customers “don’t believe” in tipping. That’s fine. But too bad for you. You chose to go out to a place that pays its employees on the basis that you will tip them.
If you have a problem with tipping, lobby for the labor laws to be changed so tipped employees can earn a livable wage before tips. Don’t take your beef with the government out on minimum wage tipped employees just trying to pay the bills.
On top of both of those situations, now tipped workers are risking their health to make money. You can’t tell me these workers are not exposed to COVID-19 on a weekly basis. This heightened risk so business owners can make money deserves recognition and better tips. These employees don’t want “Thank you” banners. They want better tips. 10% and 15% doesn’t cut it right now. Tip better.
Always keep in mind servers have no control over how your food turns out. Don’t take your frustrations with the kitchen out on their tip. Even if you don’t think the service was great, tip them. It’s a hard economy. You chose to go out. They didn’t choose to work for $4.65 an hour.
Be kind and give them a break. It’s not easy being deemed a tipped employee and it’s even more difficult right now. If you can afford to eat out, go out for drinks or have your hair done – you can afford to tip. And up to 20-25% isn’t that much more for you but it adds up for the worker.
We’re all just trying to make it.