Server and Service Worker Minimum Wage and Tips
Massachusetts employers must pay servers and service workers the “service minimum wage” of $5.55 per hour (as of 2021) and must also ensure that the combined service rate and tips received by each server/service worker equal or exceed the state minimum wage ($13.50 as of 2021). If an employer violates this rule (or other rules concerning tip pooling and service charges described below), then that employer forfeits its privilege of paying the “minimum service rate” and must compensate the employee for the full minimum wage for all hours worked within the claim period.
Employers also violate the law when they allow non-service workers or managers to participate in server tip pools. For instance, restaurant hosts, hostesses, cooks, dishwashers, or other back of house workers cannot participate in server tip pools. Employers that violate the tip pool statute are liable to their service employees for the full minimum wage and liquidated damages totaling three times the amount of the worker’s unpaid wages, plus costs and attorney’s fees.
Employers also violate the law when they assign servers or service workers excessive amounts of side work. For instance, many restaurant employers require their servers to perform non-service work like sweeping, cleaning, stocking supplies, and food prep. Employers that assign excessive amounts of side work can lose their privilege of paying service employees the “service minimum wage” and become liable to their employees for the full minimum wage.
Meet With a Wage and Hour Attorney Today
Contact us today if you have questions about your rights as a server or service worker. Our Massachusetts wage and hour lawyers serve clients throughout Western Massachusetts including Springfield, Chicopee, Holyoke, Northampton, Amherst, and Westfield.