michael prueMPP Michael Prue has introduced a bill in the Legislature that will prevent restaurant owners and management from being able to dip into their staff’s gratuities.

The following is an excerpt from Bill 114:

“14.1 An employer shall not take any portion of an employee’s tips or other gratuities.”

As anyone who’s worked in the service industry can tell you, there aren’t many protections available to them. A quick scan of Craigslist will show you examples of restaurants offering less than minimum wage to potential employees and there are many stories of workers being forced to pay into “house” or “breakage” fees. Tipping out the back-of-the-house staff is often just another way for the owner to offset some of the costs of doing business instead of making sure they’re paid a decent wage.

Sure, I’ve read the stories about profit margins for restaurants averaging 5 to 8% and there’s little room for error but that’s no excuse for cheating your staff who rely on tips for a living. Ideally, we would be living in a world where everyone is paid a fair, equitable wage for a day’s work. Sadly, restaurant workers rely on the tips they make to get by and taking that away from them, even a little bit, hurts.

I’ve heard folks saying that people who work in retail don’t get tips so why should servers? Leaving aside the fact that it’s difficult to make a living on a retail wage, a good server provides an experience that can very well make a person’s night. It’s the kind of personal exchange that can vary greatly depending on the needs of the guest and like any individualized service, deserves to be recognized with a little something if it’s good.

After that nonsense with MPP David Caplan introducing a bill that would ban auto-gratuities, it’s nice to see a politician taking the side of restaurant workers for a change. Here’s hoping this initiative goes somewhere.

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