Lots of employees are paid at least partly in tips—waiters, bartenders, baristas, bellhops, casino employees, valets, and delivery drivers just to name a few. Ohio and federal wage laws require employers to make sure that even tipped employees receive at least the minimum wage. Tipped employees who aren’t being paid what they’re owed should talk to an Ohio minimum wage attorney.

A “tipped employee” is someone who regularly earns more than $30 in tips per month. The federal minimum wage law is the Fair Labor Standards Act (or “FLSA”). The Ohio Revised Code and Ohio Constitution have minimum wage requirements as well. Under Ohio and federal law, employers can partially offset the minimum wages they would owe by the amount of tips the employee receives. This is known as a “tip credit.” In other words, an employer can pay tipped employees less than the minimum wage.

The federal tip credit requires employers to pay tipped employees at least $2.13, less than the minimum wage of $7.25. Ohio wage law also permits a tip credit, but it is calculated differently. Under Ohio law, employers must pay tipped employees at least half the usual minimum wage and can take a tip credit for the rest. Because Ohio’s minimum wage is $10.10 an hour for 2023, employers must pay tipped employees a minimum wage of $5.05 per hour. Under the Ohio Constitution, the minimum wage in Ohio increases every year to keep up with inflation, so those numbers will change over time.

Employers must ensure that a tipped employee’s total wages and tips combined are at least equal to the minimum wage. So if business is slow and an employee receives very few tips, the employer must make up the difference to reach the minimum wage. On the other hand, even if an employee’s tips exceed the minimum wage, employers must still pay the employee wages as outlined above.

Some employers require employees to “pool” their tips. Tipped employees put a portion of their tips into a shared pool to be divided among other employees. The FLSA permits tip pooling, but managers and supervisors may not be part of the pool. That means employers can’t force employees to share their tips with managers or supervisors.

Minimum wage attorney for Ohio employees

Minimum wage laws are complicated. If you have questions about your right to minimum wage or overtime pay, speak with an Ohio minimum wage attorney at Bolek Besser Glesius for a free consultation.