For employers, paying waiters and waitresses correctly under Oregon wage and hour laws and the Federal minimum wage and overtime law is relatively straightforward – pay no less than minimum wage for all time worked; pay overtime at time and half for over 40 hours worked in a week; and, if you are in Oregon, tips belong to the employee. While tip pooling may be allowed under certain circumstances, there are limitations such as a prohibition against paying managers from a tip pool.

Sounds easy, but some restaurant employers in particular, seem to have a knack for cooking up creative schemes for paying – or not paying – their waiters and waitresses. In the most blatant cases, they simply fail to pay the employee for all time worked. In other cases, employers end up withholding some or all of the tips belonging to the wait staff.

Being paid for “all time worked” means you should be paid for setting up and closing-out a register or till, setting up the bar or tables, and any “after hours” cleanup time worked.  In addition, the time spent changing into or out of uniforms may be compensable time. As a general rule, if you’re working for the employer, and not free to do as you wish, it is compensable time, and you need to be paid at least minimum wage. In Oregon, Minimum Wage is $8.95 in 2013.

If you work for an restaurant employer who uses a “creative” payment arrangement; if you don’t understand how you’re paid; or, if you’re just wondering if you’ve been paid correctly under the law, contact us for a FREE, confidential, no obligation consultation.