Labor protection laws having impact on employers
Editor’s note: This story first appeared in the April 12-18, 2018, issue of Caribbean Business.
After nearly all key labor laws were eased last year to stimulate the Puerto Rico economy amid concerns the changes infringed on workers’ rights, the island’s employers are now facing additional labor protection laws for employees, with three at the local level and two at the federal level.
The information was provided by Reynaldo Quintana, adviser to the Society for Human Resource Management. At the federal level, the U.S. Department of Labor has a proposed new regulation that would allow restaurants to collect tips earned by their employees and redistribute the money to the benefit of workers who do not receive tips. The change, which would only apply to workers who earn at least the federal minimum wage, seeks to cut wage disparities between “back-of-house” workers, including dishwashers and cooks, who do not receive tips, and tipped wait staff and bartenders. Under the new regulation, employers could collect the tips and distribute them equally among tipped and nontipped employees.
“The restaurant can make a rule that if a waiter gets a tip in cash, he [or she] must give it to the employer so it can be distributed,” Quintana said.
Critics of the proposed regulation, according to published reports, say there is nothing in the new rules that would prevent businessowners from simply keeping the tips to complete capital works or as profit. They say it is wrong to think employers will share tips with back-of-house employees because they are already paying these workers enough to attract and keep them in those jobs. “But it is a good change,” Quintana said.