In the United States, tipping is big business. In certain service industries, it is customary to receive fairly significant tips from clients or customers. In fact, in some jobs tips are counted on as income by the workers as well as factored into an employees pay by employers. While employers often pay tipped employees less per hour than non-tipped employees, can you agree to be paid tips only in Florida?
The federal Fair Labor Standards Act, or FLSA, governs issues relating to hourly pay and overtime in the United States. The federal minimum wage, for example, is found in the FLSA. Individual states, however, may set a minimum wage that is higher than the federal minimum. As of 2015, the federal minimum wage is $7.25 per hour but the State of Florida requires employers to pay employees at least $8.46 per hour (Updated Jan 1, 2019). The FLSA does provide certain exceptions to the minimum wage rules, including an exception for tipped employees. Under the FLSA, an employer may decrease the hourly wage paid to an employee to as low as $2.13 per hour as long as the amount paid in hourly wages combined with the amount the employee earns in tips amounts to at least the minimum wage. Although the FLSA allows a tipped employee to earn less per hour than a non-tipped employee, paying an employee in tips alone is not allowable.
Employers often try to get around the law by declaring a tipped employee to be an “independent contractor”. In fact, the “independent contractor” designation is frequently used by employers to get out of several employment obligations, including the payment of workers’ compensation and unemployment compensation. Just because an employer says you are an independent contractor though does not automatically make you one in the eyes of the law. In fact, most tipped employees do not meet the legal test for being an independent contractor. Therefore, if you employer asks you to work for tips alone based on the “independent contractor” designation you should check with an experienced Florida employment law attorney to determine if the employer’s actions are legal.
If your employer has failed to pay you hourly wages because you are a tipped employee you could be entitled to back pay if it turns out that you were legally required to be paid hourly wages. Moreover, not paying you an hourly wage could also negatively impact your social security retirement wages as well as your eligibility for things such as workers’ compensation and unemployment insurance.
If you have additional questions or concerns regarding your right to be paid an hourly wage in the State of Florida, or any other employment related legal questions, contact the experienced Florida employment law attorneys at Celler Legal, P.A. by calling 954-716-8601 to discuss possible legal options.