AUGUSTA — Gov. Paul LePage has signed into law a bill that restores the tip credit to the state’s minimum wage law.

The law change, which allows employers to pay tipped employees half the state’s minimum wage, partially repeals a ballot measure passed by voters in November that boosted Maine’s minimum wage in steps to $12 an hour by 2020. The law also removed the tip credit, requiring employers to pay all workers the minimum wage.

The restoration of the tip credit still requires employers to make up the difference in tipped employee pay when their weekly tips are not equal to what they would earn under the minimum wage.

The bill, L.D. 673, goes into effect on Jan. 1, 2018, when the state’s minimum wage under the new ballot law will increase from $9 to $10 an hour.

LePage urged lawmakers to restore the tip credit and asked the Legislature to repeal a portion of the ballot measure that requires the minimum wage after 2020 to be adjusted for inflation each year based on the Consumer Price Index.

The tip credit is largely used by restaurants and bars where food servers and bartenders work mostly for tips from their customers.

While some servers testified against restoring the tip credit, dozens of waiters, waitresses and bartenders testified in favor of the change in April during a 12-hour public hearing on the bill. They told lawmakers they usually made far more in tips than the $12 per hour promised by the new minimum wage and that patrons generally were tipping less as they were confused by the law change.

Scott Thistle can be contacted at 791-6330 or at:

[email protected]

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