Flagged Bill: SB 102 – Service Gratuity Amendments, Sen. Mayne

Sen. Karen Mayne (Democrat - Kearns)
Sen. Karen Mayne (Democrat – Kearns)

Tipping it is often a source of confusion, consternation, and awkwardness. We may not always know if we should tip or how much, but what we do know is that when we tip, the money is going to the person that cut our hair, drove our cab, or served our food as a thank you for a job well done. That is, except for when they don’t.

There are two main reasons why the person you are giving a tip to may not receive the few dollars you left on the table; there is a company policy that expressly forbids tips, or a manager simply takes the tips and puts it back into the business. The former generally comes about if a company already pays service employees a non-tip adjusted wage, the latter is due to greed and manipulation.

Of course, companies that forbid tipping are generally upfront about this fact and actively encourage people not to tip – this does not stop people from doing so, of course, but the expectation does not exist. But what about those companies that take a portion or all of a server’s tip? Most likely they do not want it known that the money you give as a thank-you is winding up in someone else’s pocket.

Sadly, these bad actors do exist and, by pocketing some or all of a servers tip money, they are actively harming the well-being of their employees, and misleading their customers. In many states, including Utah, servers rely on tips to supplement their paychecks. Service industry jobs are generally not known for their high wages in the first place, but there is actually a special minimum wage for tip earning workers. In Utah, a person who earns tips can earn a minimum wage of $2.13 an hour, under the assumption that tips will fill in the rest. When a manager or owner denies an employee some or all of their tips, poverty is a certainty.

Senator Karen Mayne (Democrat – Kearns) has been a long time advocate for workers and worker rights, and her bill SB 102 – Service Gratuity Amendments is a prime example of protecting workers, punishing bad actors, and ensuring that the public and businesses have peace of mind by adding greater transparency to the service industry.

The bill enacts the Service Industry Transparency Act. The Act, if passed, would require that an employer tell its customers that the employer keeps a portion of a tip in a visible and obvious way. It also requires that employers, when looking for new employees, actively disclose they engage in this practice. If an employer fails to fulfill these two requirements, they will be fined $50 for each incident, up to $500 a day.

Those companies that actively engage in the retention or denial of tips have nothing to worry about under this bill as they will most likely be taking these steps in the first place. However, companies that have been secretive or manipulative about the process have much to worry about – and rightly so. They are failing to pay a person a proper sum for the sweat of their brow and deserve to be held responsible for their actions.

To contact Senator Mayne, click here or call 801-968-7756.

Impact on Average Utahn:

High Impact   5 . 4 . 3 . 2 . 1 . 0   No Impact

Need for Legislation:

Necessary   5 . 4 . 3 . 2 . 1 . 0   Unnecessary

Lemon Score:

Sound Legislation 5 . 4 . 3 . 2 . 1 . 0 Clunker

You can track this, and all of our other flagged bills, by clicking here. Need an explanation of scores? Click Here.

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