Restaurant group opposes raising minimum wage for tipped workers

If a new bill becomes law, Illinois workers who get tips will receive the state’s minimum wage in addition to their tip money.

Rep. Camille Lilly, D-Chicago, has introduced House Bill 5139 which would allow servers and bartenders to receive the state’s minimum wage starting in 2025 in addition to their tips.

“This is the beginning of addressing poverty for each and every worker across the state of Illinois,” said Lilly at a press conference earlier this month.

The current minimum wage in Illinois is $12 an hour, but servers and bartenders who relieve tips make $7.20 an hour.

Sam Toia, president of the Illinois Restaurant Association, said there are already safeguards in place for service workers.

“Tipped employees, if they don’t make the full minimum wage through their wages and tips, the employer is legally required to make up the difference or face serious penalties,” said Toai.

In 2019, Governor J.B. Pritzker signed legislation into law which increases the state’s minimum wage to $15 an hour and $9 for tipped workers by 2025.

Toia praised the law for maintaining the credit which allows employers to pay tipped workers 60% of the minimum wage if tips make up the other 40%.

If the bill becomes law, the additional costs will no doubt be passed onto customers, Toai said, and a recent survey shows restaurants are still facing difficult times.

“Ninety-two percent say business conditions are worse now than they were three months ago, and 88% of the operators say their customer traffic in 2021 was lower than it was in 2019,” said Toia.

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, about 90,000 workers have left the hospitality industry in Illinois since 2020.