Paying to serve

Note: This audio story was published on the Calgary Journal’s online platform in November of 2016 – Paying to serve: Alberta’s service industry faces a multitude of concerns with the increase of minimum wage

Many people know that on Oct. 1st 2016 minimum wage went up to $12.20 per hour to fall into line with Alberta’s plan to eventually increase this to $15 per hour by 2018. There have been some complaints about this, but one of the most interesting issues may be regarding the service industry.

In the past, servers in restaurant and bars have been paid a wage even lower than minimum because of the tips they receive from customers but as of October 1st, they too have been grouped in with the rest of Alberta’s minimum wage earners.

The issue that servers foresee is that customers may learn of the pay raise and begin tipping less, or possibly stop tipping their servers completely.

Amy Evans, a server at Pop’s Taphouse in Calgary, Alta., says, “People are pissed. Waitresses can make a lot of money so I can understand why it would upset people.”

Celia Lindsay, a massage therapist and former server says, “When you think about the wage increase you also have to think about how that is effecting the economy. For those who aren’t getting that raise at their jobs, costs will still go up.”

Lindsay also points out that while wages rising may help with consistency in salary for servers, since customer count varies from day to day and tips cannot be counted on, there are other issues regarding their employers.

Lindsay says that due to higher cost for labor, owners and managers in Alberta’s establishments will likely have to cut back on shifts given to servers which means less people to wait on more tables making good service difficult to achieve.

She also says that food and beverage costs may rise, hours of operation may shrink, and some places may even have to close their doors.


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