On Monday, New York Commissioner of Labor Peter Rivera formally issued his Charge to the recently convened 2014 Wage Board.  The Charge, available here, asks the Board to answer the following question:

What modifications, if any, should be made to the required cash wage rates and the allowable credits for tips, meals, and lodging, for food service workers and service employees in the hospitality industries?

To answer it, the Board must, first and foremost, determine whether the state should 1) increase the current tip credit available under the Wage Order for the Hospitality Industry (12 NYCRR 146-1 et seq.) consistent with federal law (an unlikely outcome), 2) keep the same tip credit (permitting a cash minimum wage of $5.00/hour for food service workers as long as at least $3 of tips are received for each hour worked) or 3) decrease the tip credit (thereby requiring a higher wage to be paid by the employer than the current $5.00/hour for food service workers).  The Board will conduct a series of hearings on the issue, and issue a report providing the Commissioner, “with an understanding of what minimum wage means in today’s hospitality industries,” including the difficult question of assessing the role of tip income in the minimum wage scheme.  The Commissioner then will issue an Order accepting or rejecting the recommendations contained in the Wage Board’s report.

Watch this space for further updates regarding the tenor of Wage Board hearings and the various information provided to the Board, as well as the final Board recommendations and response by the Commissioner.