A separate minimum wage for tipped workers is already on its way out in Chicago. Now, some Illinois lawmakers want the rest of the state to follow suit.
Under a new proposal introduced last week in Springfield, all tipped workers in the state would have to be paid at least Illinois’ regular minimum wage with tips put on top of that.
Currently, minimum wage in Illinois is $14 with tipped workers starting at $8.40 an hour. Workers are requred to make the minimum wage through a combination of wages and tips. If the tips fall short, their employers have to make up the difference.
The new proposal would eliminate the subminimum wage and raise the hourly rate for tipped employees to the state's standard minimum wage with tips added on top of that number.
Pat Doerr, director at the Hospitality Business Association of Chicago, says restaurants and other businesses are concerned they aren’t ready to make a change.
“We have not yet recovered to pre-pandemic levels of employment or business in this industry once you account for inflation,” Doerr said. “But until we’re selling as much, employing as many people, have as many places in Chicago and across the state, this is going to be another barrier to full recovery of our hospitality industry.”
There is also concern that the higher wage leads to smaller tips for workers.
Nataki Rhodes, a national lead organizer with One Fair Wage, says workers shouldn’t need to depend on tips to earn a living.
“This is the old talking point of the Illinois Restaurant Association,” she said. “Every time they want to raise wages, they always want to cut tipped workers out. Since the pandemic … workers do not want to work for low wages no more across the board. This is not about tips. This is about the wage that needs to be raised.”
Note: This article was updated to clarify the details of the new proposal.