$2.13.hour is a wage employers in the service industry like to justify by telling you they provide the tools you need to make tips. Well, that’s all fine and good until you start requiring your employees to do all kinds of side work before they start picking up tables, while they’re taking care of tables and before they clock-out. Opening duties, side work and closing duties are a total scam!
A typical day (opening) shift, at my old waiter job, consisted of the following, from clock-in to clock-out:
- A list of opening duties to be split up by a staff usually consisting of hungover, lazy employees who couldn’t possibly be motivated to do more than the bare minimum given the current wage while performing these duties can be no more than $2.13/hour. For those unlucky enough to be required to show up a full hour before the first table could ever be sat, this means an hour full of cutting lemons, flipping chairs, rolling silverware, setting up the salad and soup area, checking/cleaning the bathroom, stocking the bar, brewing coffee, brewing tea, and/or sweeping/mopping messes on the floor left by the night shift.
- Pre-Shift meeting bullshit. Hearing a frustrated, tired robot tell you what to upsell, what the specials are, etc.
- Waiting on a table to show up in your section. This could go on for up to an hour. Just because we opened at 11 AM, doesn’t mean you were going to be sat a table in your section at 11 AM. If you weren’t given a table to wait on, you get to be hounded by the manager to stay busy doing side work. This means you’re still getting paid $2.13/hour after the restaurant has opened for the day’s business. side work is usually a mix of house keeping, janitorial and bus boy duties.
- Closing Duties. You can’t leave until you’ve completed chores like rolling endless amounts of silverware, cleaning and stocking your section as well as other fun stuff like restocking the wait station, cleaning the bathroom, etc.
- Think you’re leaving? Think again! you’ve finished your chores, “done your money” but you can’t find the manager to “close you out”. This could be another 5-15 minutes of hounding the manager to sign off on your money and allow you to clock out.
In all, most employees working the day shift at that restaurant spend about 2 hours doing chores while being paid only $2.13/hour. Does that sound fair to you?