Updated Pennsylvania Minimum Wage Act goes into effect after 45 years without changes

PITTSBURGH — The updated Pennsylvania Minimum Wage Act is in effect as of today and primarily affects tipped workers.

“We are one big family. When you look at it, they deserve to be paid fairly,” said Kelly O’Connor.

Kelly O’Connor has worked in the restaurant business for 44 years and now has 3 Kelly O’s Diner locations in the Pittsburgh area. It’s been 45 years since the Pennsylvania Minimum Wage Act was updated. I asked her if it’s been a long time coming.

“Yes, ma’am. I am a widowed mom. Raised two kids on my own ... on something like a dollar an hour, and I had to make my living on tips.”

The updated regulations now say employers cannot deduct credit card and non-cash payment processing fees from their employees’ tips.

Another change: A tipped employee must make at least $135 in monthly tips before an employer can reduce his or her salary to $2.83 an hour. Previously, employers could reduce the salaries of tipped employees who made $30 in tips monthly.

Tip pooling among employees is allowed but excludes managers, supervisors and business owners in most cases.

Donna Delu is a server at Kelly O’s in Warrendale.

“If you’re here and on the front lines with us, ... I understand. But if you’re just staying in the office just collecting a paycheck, that’s not fair to us,” she said.

In a statement, state Department of Labor and Industry Secretary Jennifer Berrier said, “These updated regulations not only seek to keep tips in the pockets of workers who rightfully earned them, but to also ensure employers are playing by the same fair rules.”

For O’Connor, she said she’s always gone above and beyond for her workers.

“We work hard,” she said. “We’re public servants, and we like what we do. We love what we do! But it’s really important to take care of them first.”

The new state regulations now align with the federal ones.

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