Understanding the ‘Tipped Minimum Wage’: Critical Directions for US Policy Research

Jacqueline A Ross, John Welsh*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle (Academic Journal)peer-review


With the ‘gig economy’ moving to the forefront of research on service labour, interest has heightened in the techniques of labour control that reproduce it. Taking tipping as just such a technique, this article explores critically the policy research around ‘tipped’ employment in the United States. In the United States, tipping is a legally recognised form of labour remuneration that informalises the wage relation, incentivises the worker in precarity, and internalises social relations of subordination. Understanding tipped work, its legal status, its operative logic, and the contradictions that arise within its framework, is a priority for relevant social policy analysis. The aims here are: 1) to set out the ‘topography’ of the policy landscape on tipping in the United States; and 2) to problematise the current scope of this policy literature in societal terms. This research will focus on the restaurant industry, but will establish its broader societal significance.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-19
JournalSocial Policy and Society
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 29 Jun 2020

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