On Living Wages
Our staff is our family, and we are committed to providing the best possible work environment and exemplary work practices for our employees.
Daily, we work to nurture an inclusive workplace where all staff feel included, respected, and valued. We employ a leadership team of which more than 50 percent are women and people of color. We offer competitive wages as well as a meaningful benefits package, and over the last decade, we have lead the industry in evolving our business practices to address some of the intrinsic injustices in the tipped model of the hospitality industry. Read on about how living wages and pay equity have helped us push the needle in the right direction.
As a first step in addressing inequities, in 2016, we instituted a Revenue Sharing model across our restaurants, sharing a percentage of food sales with our kitchen staff, raising their pay by approximately $2 an hour.
Then in October 2020, we committed to take a stand with One Fair Wage and the High Road Restaurants organizations. With these commitments we pledged to work towards a legislative package that includes:
- Work towards a $15 minimum wage for all workers
- Fight to do away with the Sub-minimum wage for tipped workers
- Fight for legislation that allows restaurant owners to distribute tips equitably between the Front and Back of the House
Additionally, we subscribe to the stated mission of RAISE: High Road Restaurants, ”[to] advocate for fair wages and increased racial and gender equity through hiring, training, and promotional practices.”
Now in early 2021, we have taken the next step; this time targeting pay equity. By enacting an Administrative Fee in lieu of tipping, this system allowed us to distribute these funds across the restaurant’s employees (excluding ownership) decreasing the wage gap between that had been so prevalent between tipped and non-tipped positions.
We have successfully installed these policies amongst our restaurant group, positively impacting the take-home pay for our staff and shared the findings with our community. Still, we believe the passage of legislation targeting pay equity and living wages in the hospitality industry will create a level playing field, eliminating the advantage to those who would choose to maintain and leverage low wages to keep menu prices down.
On Pay Equity
We are are experimenting with a new pay structure at Vincent’s and Mamaleh’s Delicatessen. The purpose of this change is to work towards more equitable pay between the Front (FOH) and Back (BOH) of the House staff.
In order to provide equitable wages for all of our staff members, we’ve made the decision to forgo the standard tipping model and instead include a 10% Administration Fee on all checks. Additionally, guests may choose to donate money into an employee fund. If you’d like to give more than 10% to our staff, we welcome you to do so with our ‘Donate to our Team’ menu button.
These two amounts will be combined and redistributed to employees in their paychecks. This change will include FOH and BOH Management but exclude ownership. We expect employees will get an additional $3 – $5 dollars over their base pay per hour in their paycheck.
We are putting an end to our Revenue Share program but in this shift, we are guaranteeing all employees will make a minimum of $17/hour.
Our original intent was to fully remove the ability for guests to tip. At this time, we can’t prevent guests from tipping due to limitations of our point-of-sale system called Toast. So, the Administrative Fee will be distributed to Front of House employees only in the case where their daily tip per hour rate does not match the Administrative Fee per hour rate for that period.
We are looking forward to closing the wage gap between the Front and Back of the House, and doing our part to get our employees working for a living wage.
The purpose is to make pay equitable between FOH and BOH and make a living wage for all.
Why not just share tips?
Massachusetts is one of two states in the nation that does not allow tips to be shared between the Front and Back of the house. We are working closely with elected officials to make this change in regulation. But, until then, we are forced to work around the issue with this pay structure.
Why are you doing this?
We think that it is important to work towards pay equity and providing a living wage to all employees. Of course there are many challenges to running a business – and labor cost is high among them. Still, it is our priority to continue to work to raise your wages and pay you the most we can while running a healthy business.
How will I know how much more than my hourly wage I will make?
Each paycheck there will be a line separate from your regular hourly wage that will show your additional earnings.
So now – if the restaurant is busier – we are ALL making more money?
How does the increase in FOH per hour wage affect labor cost?
Projections show that the extra cost of raising the FOH positions to $13.50 will be roughly 1.86% additional to our labor number. We will be dedicating some of the Administrative Fee each week to offset this additional expense.
Does all of the Administrative Fee go to staff?
Yes, all of the Administrative Fee is dispersed and accounted for into non-ownership labor wages and labor expenses each pay period.
Does the payroll expense increase?
Yes, when payroll increases taxes also increase.
Is the loss of tip credit significant?
It does affect the owners and the company investor’s personal taxes. However, taxation is limited as it is a flow through.
What’s the formula for distributing the Administrative Fee?
Each pay period, we will calculate what tips have come in and how much extra money per hour the (traditionally tipped) FOH positions are getting by the day. We will use the Administrative Fee to equalize the additional money that employees receive on top of their base pay. The Administrative Fee will be distributed evenly (after accounting for tips) to all employees based on hours worked. Salaried managers will get 40 hours worth of Administrative Fee (similar to how they have gotten 40 hours of Revenue Share in the past)
Are we planning a rainy day fund with any of these monies?
No, we think it is better to distribute all of the money each pay period.
Should we all use the same wording for minimum pay for all/guaranteed minimum/base starting wage for any position/employees make at least…
No, the rules differ slightly. Our traditionally tipped positions are guaranteed a minimum of $17/hour. This means that if tips and the Administrative Fee don’t get employees to $17, the business makes up the difference. In fact, all employees are guaranteed a minimum of $17/hour. The base starting wage for any employee is $13.50. Base wages increase depending on years with the company, as well as experience, skill level, and responsibilities of the position.
Do we plan not to take tips when they can be legally shared with the whole staff?
Hard to say! This new pay structure is still in an experimental phase. Our hope is that it works and we can move away from tips. But we won’t know until we put it into practice. And, who knows when tip sharing might be legalized in MA.
How do we explain this new pay structure to our BOH employees who have grown accustomed to our Revenue Sharing Program?
The Revenue Share is being replaced by an Administrative Fee and it will be at least $3/hour extra. This is more money than our Revenue Share projections were able to prove. All employees are guaranteed a minimum of $17/hour.
When are employees eligible?
Newly hired staff are eligible right away.