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Restaurants That Pay $15 Base Wage Would Be Able to Add 15 Percent Surcharge: New Bill

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Nov. 23, 2020 By Allie Griffin

A Queens council member introduced a bill Thursday that would allow restaurants to add a 15 percent surcharge to the tab if they pay all their employees a base wage of at least $15 per hour.

Council Member Antonio Reynoso, who represents parts of Ridgewood, Bushwick and Williamsburg, introduced the legislation to help compensate restaurants that decide to pay their tipped employees the $15 general minimum wage.

Employers are allowed to pay tipped workers a lower minimum wage than standard employees, since these workers are expected to make up the difference through gratuities.

Reynoso has named the surcharge in his legislation the “Food Service Establishment Surcharge.” The surcharge would need to be clearly disclosed on the menu, final bill and receipt should a restaurant decide to take advantage of it.

The surcharge cannot be applied to take-out or delivery orders.

Reynoso’s bill also mandates that restaurants make it clear that the additional charge is not a gratuity. All tips would still go to the workers.

The bill would repeal and replace a new local law that temporarily allows eateries to charge customers a “COVID-19 Recovery Charge.”

The current COVID-19 law allows restaurants to add a surcharge of up to 10 percent of the tab. The COVID-19 law ends 90 days after full indoor dining is once again permitted.

Reynoso’s legislation would allow establishments to add a higher surcharge to diners’ bills on a permanent basis.

The bill is co-sponsored by Council Members Jimmy Van Bramer, Adrienne Adams, Brad Lander, Ben Kallos and Public Advocate Jumaane Williams.

If passed, the legislation would go into effect 120 days after becoming a law.

The legislation has the support of One Fair Wage, a nonprofit that lobbies for the elimination of the tipped minimum wage, according to Eater.

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