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New tip rules likely won’t make big waves

Bartender Brittany Hays helps serve Ed and Ann Niemann, of Beaver, on the outdoor patio at The Harmony Inn on Friday in Harmony. Joseph Ressler/Butler Eagle

CRANBERRY TWP — Pennsylvania’s new tipped workers regulations, an update to the state’s Minimum Wage Act, will likely change little, according to Bob McCafferty, owner of North Country Brewing in Slippery Rock and Harmony Inn in Harmony.

The new regulations, which go into effect Aug. 5, largely align the state’s rules with those of the federal government’s, while also changing the amount of money in tips each month an employee must receive to be considered a “tipped employee,” prohibiting employers from deducting payment processing fees from tips and requiring employers clarify that service charges are not tips.

“We don’t see it as an issue,” McCafferty said. “What PA is doing is what the federal government’s already done, and began enforcing in December.”

Server Genevieve Romeo talks to a customer during lunch at The Harmony Inn on Friday in Harmony. Joseph Ressler/Butler Eagle

Those federal regulations, which are now included in Pennsylvania’s rules include the “80/20 rule” — requiring employees spend 80% of their work time “on duties that directly generate tips” in order to be considered tipped workers — and allowing tip pooling among employees while in most cases excluding managers, supervisors and owners.

McCafferty said he doesn’t see the new regulations “as a burden,” noting earlier rumors about updated Department of Labor & Industry regulations included more radical changes.

Bartender Brittany Hays serves a water on the outdoor patio at The Harmony Inn on Friday in Harmony. Joseph Ressler/Butler Eagle

“We’re glad that they’re not discussing getting rid of the tipped wages, because that was on the table,” he said. “We are happy, the servers are happy, the bartenders are happy that they’re leaving the tipped wage alone.”

While largely not considering the new rules a burden, McCafferty said there is always the potential for unintended consequences from new regulations. Two such possibilities, he said, are an increased amount of paperwork and the added responsibility to ensure those who work flexible schedules follow the 80/20 rule.

“One of the unintended consequences could be watching their schedules more intensely,” he added.

Another concern of McCafferty’s is the way in which the regulations were promulgated.

“The only issue I see is, again, our elected officials did not make the change — it was the Secretary of Labor (& Industry),” he said.

Server Kayla Slagle serves a table during lunch at The Harmony Inn on Friday in Harmony. Joseph Ressler/Butler Eagle
Bartender Brittany Hays carries her daughter, Rylee Hays, 3, while working at The Harmony Inn on Friday in Harmony. Hays’ family visited her for lunch as a surprise. Joseph Ressler/Butler Eagle