Montgomery County to introduce bill that would increase wages for tipped employees

A bill to raise the minimum base wage for tipped workers in Montgomery County is being introduced Tuesday.

Currently, employers pay a base wage, then waiters and bartenders increase their pay with tips from customers, says FOX 5's Melanie Alnwick. If a restaurant has a slow night and tips are low, employers are required to make up the difference so that staff never take home less than minimum wage.

Councilmember Will Jawando is spearheading the bill that would eliminate that tipped system and require employers to pay full minimum wage base pay.

Jawando, who is running for Senate, says it's about pay fairness. He says it will help Montgomery County businesses retain staff.


DC restaurants brace as 'Initiative 82,' eliminating tipped wage system, goes into effect

Tipped workers in D.C. will be getting a boost in their paychecks starting Monday all thanks to last year's passage of initiative 82 which eliminates the District's tip credit.

Bethesda restaurateur Geoff Tracey says it amounts to an additional $400,000 expense for one restaurant.

"So that money still has to come from somewhere, and it's going to come from the customer in the form of a service charge, gratuity fee…and hopefully the servers will continue to be making the same kind of good money they are now," Tracey said.

Alnwick reports that a National Restaurant Association survey of tipped workers in January 2022 found the median take home pay with tipped wages was $27 an hour. Staff in fine dining establishments earned as much as $48 an hour or more.

The Restaurant Association warns that if restaurants are forced to raise prices, customers may cut back, and a downward spiral begins.

D.C.'s experiment with tipped wage elimination is already underway with a full phase in by 2027.

A public hearing on Montgomery County's bill is scheduled for October.