You recently moved to California and you got a job in which you collect tips. Perhaps you work at a cafe, a restaurant or a bar.
In other states where you’ve lived before, you know that the minimum wage for tipped employees can be very low. They still have to make the state minimum wage at least, but their tips can be credited toward that wage.
For instance, some workers are paid just over $2 an hour before tips. If the minimum wage in the state is $12 an hour, then they would need to make at least $10 an hour in tips or the business would have to pay them more. Is the same system in place in California?
Tips cannot be used as a credit
California is actually something of an outlier in that it does not allow tips to be used as a credit in this sense. You are supposed to be paid the state minimum wage, which is $15 an hour as of this writing. You can still get tips on top of that, but your employer cannot pay you less than minimum wage and say that some of your wages come from the tips.
In other words, these tips are truly intended to be extra. Even if you got no tips at all for the day, you would theoretically still earn the state minimum wage. If you made $500 in tips, that doesn’t change the obligation for your employer. They still have to pay you minimum wage at all times, and then you can collect your tips on top of that if you’ve received them for providing good service.
Unfortunately, not all employers understand how the system works and they may confuse it with the systems used in other states. If you feel like your rights have been violated, you need to know about your legal options.