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Service industry workers get boost to tips made by credit card


By Elizabeth Perry

Your $5 tip finally means $5 in your server’s pocket.

As of Aug. 5, restaurants in the commonwealth are no longer allowed to dock credit card fees from a server’s tip, according to Pennsylvania’s Independent Regulatory Review Commission (IRRC).

Moon resident Thea Woolslayer waits tables at the Mad Mex in Robinson, and she had never realized that every time a customer tipped her on a credit card, a transaction fee was being deducted from her tip.

“A lot of people pay with card. I rarely get cash anymore,” Woolslayer said.

This was not the only update made by the IRRC.

Employers were allowed to pay tipped employees less than the state’s minimum wage, to as low as $2.83 an hour if they made at least $30 a month in tips. Beginning August 5, that monthly tip threshold rose to $135 a month to adjust for inflation going back to 1977. Vermont is the only other state to make this change. Woolslayer said she began working as a hostess and food runner in high school, and that adjustment would have increased her pay.

Other revisions include changes to how overtime for salaried employees with fluctuating work week schedules is compensated, clarifications to service charges for banquets and events and updates that managers and supervisors may not participate in tip pools unless they have provided the entire service to a customer.

State Sen. Wayne Fontana (D-42), said the Democratic caucus and Gov. Tom Wolf have been pushing for an increase to the minimum wage for more than eight years, but they could never pass legislation. As tipped minimum wage had been decoupled from the minimum wage, changes were possible through legislative means, Fontana said. There are 32 other states with a higher tipped minimum wage, said Fontana, who sees the changes as necessary to ensure workers get fair treatment.

“Everybody’s using credit cards now. To take it off the tipped employee, I think that’s disrespectful for your employee,” Fontana said.

Between 93,479 and 159,707 employees in Pennsylvania are paid a tipped minimum wage, according to the IRRC report.

Fontana said the changes would put more money into servers’ pockets.

“They deserve it, they work hard for their money,” Fontana said.


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