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Along with many other states, Delaware is raising its minimum wage in 2015. However, unlike many states that already implemented this change on January 1, the rate change will not go into effect until June 1. On that day, the minimum wage shall increase from the current rate of $7.75 to $8.25 per hour.
For tipped employees in Delaware, the minimum wage is $2.23, which means employers must only pay that amount to their employees who usually receive gratuities of more than $30 each month. Under state law, gratuities and tips are not considered service charges, which is a required amount a customer must pay in order to receive services. Tips are considered a voluntary contribution by customers who may decide whether to tip or not and the amount they will give. Tips are considered to be the property of the employee and cannot be withheld by the employer unless required by state or federal laws.
Because customers can easily confuse service charges with gratuities and neglect to tip because they believe their server gets all or part of the service charges, businesses must clearly and conspicuously post a notice on menus, bills, placards or elsewhere that states' services charges are the property of the business. Companies that fail to provide sufficient notice lose the right to retain the service charges and they revert back to the worker who provided the services.
Delaware workers can voluntarily pool or share their tips with one another, but an employer may not force their workers to share or pool their tips. Employers are not entitled to any part of the employees’ gratuities. If more than one worker provides a direct service to a customer who leaves a tip, companies are permitted to require those employees to pool the tip. However, the pooled amount may not exceed 15 percent of the gratuity for the primary service provider.
Delaware law provides an exception to the minimum wage law for employers in a few cases. As long as the employer has received prior approval from the state Department of Labor, it is allowable to pay disabled employees less than minimum wage. The wage shall not be less than three-quarters of the prevailing minimum wage unless so justified by the Labor Department. “Piece rate” wages for disabled and non-disabled workers, where the employee is paid a certain amount for each piece that they complete, must be the same rate.
In order to qualify to pay disabled workers at a lower rate, the business owner must get a certificate of approval from the Labor Department after he or she fills out an application. The application must detail the nature of the disability of the worker and describe what type of work the individual will be performing. They also must state the rate they propose to pay the disabled worker. Certificates are in effect for a specific timeframe and it is the responsibility of the employer to submit a new application when the time period expires.
Under Delaware employment laws, if an employer terminates a worker, the worker must be issued a final paycheck no later than the following pay date. Workers who quit must also wait until that scheduled day to be paid unless the employer chooses to pay them sooner. Former employees may request that their last paycheck be mailed to them if they choose.
There are many more wage laws in effect in the state of Delaware. If you are having a dispute with your employer over payment or rate of your wages, you can seek the counsel of a Delaware employment law attorney to get it resolved.
This article is intended to be helpful and informative. But even common legal matters can become complex and stressful. A qualified wage and hour lawyer can address your particular legal needs, explain the law, and represent you in court. Take the first step now and contact a local wage and hour attorney to discuss your specific legal situation.