MK Dov Hanin (Hadash – Joint List) submitted a bill on Monday, June 15, that would prohibit restaurants from counting waiters’ tips towards their salaries, and thereby obligate restaurant management to pay these workers the minimum wage. “This is an historic bill that will put an end to exploitation in the food and catering industries,” said those backing the bill, among them the Waiters’ Union.
The bill would also require restaurants to pay waiters on shift standby for their time and would prevent restaurateurs from postponing starting times for waiters. To help compensate the restaurants, the bill also proposes a certain measure of tax breaks during the first five years of the law’s implementation. If the bill passes, it could upend the system of tip-based wages or even eliminate tipping in Israel’s restaurants altogether.
According to the group Waiters with Dignity, about 70% of waiters earn less than NIS 4,000 a month, below the current minimum wage of NIS 4,650. Data from the Central Bureau of Statistics show similar wages for workers in the food and beverage services in recent years. The group also said that 90% of servers don’t get paid for standby hours, 56% don’t get reimbursed for travel expenses, and 60% receive false pay slips. “It cannot be that 100,000 waiters are working without a base salary and without receiving the social rights obligating every employer in Israel,” said Waiters’ Union representative Alon-Lee Green.