While the majority of Mainers would like to see an increased minimum wage statewide, it will leave behind some unintended consequences. 

After the votes were tabulated, there is absolutely no question that Maine people believe in a higher minimum wage. As question 4 was being debated, an unintended consequence with no clear fix at the moment became quite clear, what about tip-based workers?

According to the Portland Press Herald, the minimum wage increase will affect bartenders and other wait staff in a seismic way. The main concern for wait staff, bartenders, hair dressers and business owners is over the "tip credit" elimination. Currently, employees can use a "tip credit", which allow businesses to consider tips as part of an employees regular wage. With the passing of the new law, the "tip credit" will be eliminated and tipped workers will earn the same wage as non-tipped workers.

Beyond bartenders and wait staff, other tipped workers will be affected. That includes salon workers, such as hair stylists. There is fear amongst some industry professionals that the law will force businesses to raise prices.

In 2017, the initial jump will not be drastic and the consequences of the new law should not be apparent. Currently, tipped workers make $3.75 per hour, that will jump to $5 per hour next year. From there, their hourly wage will increase $1 each subsequent year until it matches non-tipped workers by the year 2024.

Where that leaves tipped workers is anybody's guess. Will people stop tipping all together because of the hourly wage increase? Will restaurants and bars raise food and beverage prices to compensate for the the increase in forced hourly wage? Will salons and barber shops raise prices as well?

Maine lawmakers have agreed to consider altering the new law down the road to better fit the concerns of those in tip-based industries. But for 2017, there will be no change. Those who live off of tips will survive in the next year, but will continue to wonder about the viability of their jobs in the future.

What do you think?

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