If you are one of the many establishments in Florida whose employees rely on regular tips as part of their wages, minimum wage laws apply differently to you. Restaurant servers, bartenders, parking valets and others in professions that traditionally receive tips can be subject to a tip credit. This means you can pay your employees less than the usual minimum wage of $8.25, although you will need to be careful to follow the rule to the letter, or you may face wage violation accusations.
According to the United States Department of Labor, employers can take a tip credit of $3.02, meaning you can pay your tipped employees as little as $5.23 an hour. There is a caveat to this: You must ensure that your employees are paid at least the state minimum wage after tips. If, by the end of the pay period, an employee did not receive enough tips to meet the minimum wage, you are required to make up the difference.
The same rule applies if your employees participate in a tip pool, combining a portion of their tips to share with eligible employees. You may not force an employee to contribute an amount to the tip pool that would bring his or her income down to less than the full minimum wage. Additionally, if an employee performs non-tipping tasks, such as cleaning or side work, that make up more than 20 percent of his or her hours, you are not permitted to take the tip credit for those hours.
Wage and hour laws in Florida can be complex, especially in a tipped profession, which is why you should not consider this post to be legal advice.