Working for tips could become less lucrative under proposed rules

A newly-proposed rule has sparked concern among those in the restaurant industry and could stick servers with more work for less pay.

This week, the Department of Labor rolled out the proposal to make changes like banning managers and supervisors from keeping workers' tips and new regulations about who can earn money from a tip pool. 

However, it is the recommended elimination of the so-called 80/20 rule that has many people fired up.

When you work for tips, you rely on the number and generosity of customers to make ends meet.

Under the 80/20 rule, managers can require tipped workers, like servers and bartenders, to do non-tipped "side work" while still being paid less than regular minimum wage, which is $8.46 in Florida. Side work can include things like folding napkins, polishing glasses or silverware, and setting tables, as long as the side work doesn't take up more than 20% of their shift. 

For example, during a five-hour shift, a server can be required to do one hour of side work and their employer does not have to compensate them beyond the tipped employee minimum wage, which is $5.44 in Florida. But if the server is required to do two hours of side work, their employer would have to pay them regular minimum wage for the second hour.

The federal government now wants to remove the time limit. Instead of dictating a specific amount of time, the law would say non-tipped work should be done "contemporaneously" or "within a reasonable time immediately before or after" the tipped work.

"That’s completely unfair, especially for someone in the line of work where you're relying on tips," Chef Devin Rossi told FOX 13 News.

The loose language has tipped workers worried they could be required to spend more of their shift doing side work - and not earning tips - while still being paid a lower hourly rate.

There's also concern kitchen and support staff, who make at least minimum wage, could see tipped workers performing their duties, and their hours cut as a result.

Public comments on the suggested regulations will be open for 60 days. The Department of Labor says it will consider the feedback before deciding on the changes.