In Georgia as in most states, there are state and federal laws regarding your minimum wage. Employees who get tips in Georgia, however, aren’t covered by state laws. These employees are considered exempt from state minimum wage laws. Instead, if you receive tips, you are covered by federal laws that address employee tips.
It does admittedly seem like a convoluted system, and it would be understandable if you were confused about what exactly your rights are within that system. Particularly, you may be wondering if your boss is allowed to take your tips from you.
This blog will address federal laws regarding tips and your employee rights under United States laws. Please read on to learn more. If you suspect your employer has taken your tips unlawfully, do not hesitate to reach out to an Atlanta wage and hour law attorney today. As an employee, you do have legal protections, and we will fight to defend your rights.
Employment and Tips in Georgia: An Overview
The most important rule about tips according to federal law is that your tips belong to you. They do not belong to your employer, hence the answer to the question that opened this blog is (generally speaking) no. Your boss is not allowed to take your tip except in two very specific circumstances:
Tip credit: While not permitting your employer to take your tip out of your hand, federal law lets employers in some states (like Georgia) count your tips toward your minimum wage. The employer is, in effect, counting some of your tips as if your employer had paid you the amount of money in the tip.
Tip pool: According to federal law, as well as according to most states’ laws, your boss is allowed to implement a rule that all employees pay into a tip pool meant to be shared among the employees.
Tip Credits: Minimum Wage Protection
We return now to the topic of tip credits and to the idea presented in the introduction, that you have wage protection regardless of whether you do or do not receive tips. Under federal law and Georgia law, the minimum wage is $7.25 an hour. Note that Georgia’s minimum wage laws don’t apply to tipped employees, but you still have federal minimum wage and are entitled to the full federal minimum wage.
Although some states restrict this, a number including Georgia (as well as federal law) allow your employer to count your tips toward your minimum wage. As described above, this is the tip credit that the law gives your employer. This means that if you earn enough tips to make up the difference, your boss can in fact pay you less than minimum wage.
The tip credit amount permitted under federal law is $5.12 per hour. Consequently, Georgia employers may pay you a minimum wage of $2.13 an hour if you receive tips.
However, if you don’t make enough through tips in a workweek that you earn at least minimum wage between your tips and whatever reduced amount your boss pays you, then your boss is required under law to pay you the difference. Since the federal minimum wage is $7.25, if you don’t earn at least the equivalent of $5.12 per hour in tips, your employer needs to pay you the difference.