Wednesday, December 28, 2016

Living wage ends the practice of tipping.

My wife works in the restaurant business.  She makes minimum wage plus tips.  Even though she brings home more than 15 an hour with tips the government would put her wage at our current minimum wage in Alberta which is currently below the 15 an hour so called living wage.   If what we hear in the media is to be believed those in the restaurant industry are going to have trouble affording the increase in wages.  Logically you would surmise the easy answer would be just to increase prices however this could cause your restaurant to out price it's target demographic leading to a loss of sales.  The counter argument is everyone else will have to raise there prices and thus the target demographic will return as the grass is not always greener elsewhere.

The less obvious choice is to include the tips everyone gets from kitchen staff to the wait staff as part of their hourly wage.  You are suppose to include your tips in your yearly taxes yet employers do not get the benefit of being able to say with tips our workers are making more than 15 an hour.  Thus the only solution for those restaurant owners who do not want to raise their prices is to hard wire tips into the bill and include them in worker's paychecks.  Meaning someone like my wife who was making 12 an hour plus 8 an hour in tips would be seen as making 20.00 an hour.  The restaurant does not have to raise it's prices as the change to tips being hardwired into the bill more accurately reflects what people are paid.

To those who argue that tips are a variable that changes I say hogwash.  We are Canadian and non-confrontational by nature.  Even when food and service sucks we leave a tip to avoid having to deal with the consequence of not tipping or complaining about food/service.  In many ways we are taught to leave a bad review, or shame on social media instead of directly talking to someone.  On the flip side those who want tips to motivate them to work hard get a good life lesson.  Most jobs in life have the expectation you will work hard for a fair wage.  Not getting a handout at the end is part of life and not an excuse to give less excellence in service.  There are other ways to keep people motivated than 5.00 at the end of a meal which ends up being 2.00 after you tip out kitchen staff.  With the new living wage reality coming to Alberta, restaurant owners don't really have a choice as people won't always pay more.

On a personal level this brings me to shaved ice and how much am I going to pay people to bring the cool to the people of Alberta.   You might think I would pay a student whatever the current minimum wage to work.  I really want to have all the wages I pay at 15 an hours ahead of it having to be 15 an hour as I believe by giving employees a better wage you get better workers as they can afford to eat.  By eating you get the energy you need to work hard.  There is also an element of pride that comes from getting paid a living wage.  Instead of seeing all your money go to rent, you have enough to enjoy a movie with friends, thus living a more enjoyable life.  Shaved ice requires happy people to make it as it is one of those bright, colorful and fun winter treats on a hot summer's day.  If you haven't contributed to my shaved ice crowdsourcing campaign or even heard of it you better hurry.  Don't miss your chance to be a part of the erniebcools story.  Click here to go to ATB BoostR and help keep Alberta COOL!!!

Master Iceman

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