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NY raises servers’ base wages to $7.50 an hour

Restaurants in New York will be required to pay servers at least $7.50 an hour starting Dec. 31 and could lose their tip credit altogether under decisions announced yesterday by the state department of labor.

The minimum wage for tipped employees could be even higher in New York City. If the state legislature raises the minimum wage specifically for the employers in the city, as it is widely expected to do, tipped employees there would receive $8.50 per hour in addition to their tips.

Employer groups in the state had urged a group empaneled to study the matter to include concessions for some employers, citing the financial strain they would feel if the base pay of tipped workers was increased by 50 percent. But Acting Commissioner of Labor Mario Musolino rejected their argument, saying a hike to $7.50 an hour is a just one for employees who haven’t seen a raise “for far too long.”

“After receiving testimony divided between those in favor of eliminating the tip credit and those opposed to any change, I believe this recommendation strikes a fair balance,” Musolino said in his statement announcing the changes.

However, he left open the possibility of eliminating the tip credit altogether in the state, the nation’s fourth largest restaurant market. Musolino accepted the recommendation of an ad hoc Hospitality Wage Board that the matter be studied further.

About 229,000 residents of the state qualify as tipped employees, according to the office of Governor Andrew Cuomo, who applauded the changes in servers’ pay.

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