If you are a server in Colorado or are considering becoming one, then you should know what the minimum wage is for servers in Colorado to see if you are being paid the correct amount, or whether this is a job you would like to do. The Colorado server minimum wage rate in 2023 is $10.63 per hour.
The laws surrounding the Colorado minimum wage for servers act as a safety net for those that may not earn enough in tips to meet the minimum wage threshold in the state.
Servers take care of customers with food and beverages in a restaurant or similar type of business where food and drinks are brought to the table by them, and as part of this service, a server will typically receive tips (gratuities) for doing so. Colorado servers usually rely less on their hourly wage and more on the generosity of guests to make a reasonable living from being a server.
Server Minimum Wage in Colorado
What is the minimum wage in Colorado for waiters, servers, and others in the hospitality industry? The minimum cash wage for servers in Colorado is $10.63 per hour which is the same as the tipped minimum wage in Colorado.
This is the minimum per hour that a Colorado server must be paid and that a Colorado employer must pay its servers. The graphic below shows the CO server minimum wage rate over the past several years which has been increasing incrementally over the past several years.
Colorado Server Minimum Wage 2023 – Cash Wage and Tip Credits
$10.63 per hour is not much per hour to be paid, but Colorado servers are required to be supplemented by their employers via “tipped credit”, which in Colorado is $3.02 per hour, making the server minimum wage in Colorado a total of $13.65 per hour. This is the same as the regular minimum wage in Colorado which applies to all types of employees that work in the state.
Colorado employers are required to pay their employees an hourly minimum cash wage with the addition of tip credits. What tipped credits allow employers to do is pay tipped employees less than the minimum wage so long as they can make up the equivalent difference via tips per hour.
Tip credit not only allows server employees to be paid less than the minimum hourly wage, but it is also the same concept with bartenders, hotel workers, some airport workers, valet car parking attendants, and pretty much any job role where tips are the primary income for the employee.
In Colorado, servers must be paid a base minimum cash wage of $10.63 per hour. The expectation is that Colorado servers will make at least an additional $3.02 per hour in tips on average across their pay period, and if they do, then the employer is only obligated to pay a Colorado server $10.63 per hour.
Let’s assume that a server does not make at least $3.02 per hour in tips as an average over the course of their pay period (usually two weeks), then the employer must step in and pay the Colorado server a tip credit of up to $3.02 per hour, so the server makes a minimum of $13.65 per hour for the duration of the pay period or week that they worked.
Average Server Salary in Colorado (2023)
If you are a server or are looking to work as a server in a restaurant or similar service-related business in Colorado, knowing what you can expect to earn is important.
Most Colorado servers will not be satisfied with just earning $13.65 per hour, because based on working 35-40 hours a week, they would only earn $477.75-$546 per week, and when you compare this to the cost of living in Colorado, you may struggle to make ends meet.
How much do servers make in Colorado?
The average server hourly wage in Colorado (according to the job website Indeed.com) is $14.55 per hour. So, if you were to work an 8-hour shift or a total of 8 hours in a day across two shifts, you could earn (on average) about $116.40 (8 hrs x $14.55). If you worked five days per week and rounded your daily pay to $116, then you could earn about $580 per week.
If you took just two weeks off a year and worked for 50 weeks you could earn $29,000. If you decided to take 3 weeks off per year, then you could earn 49 x $580 = $28,420 for the year. This, of course, is before Colorado income tax.
The above calculations are just averages to give you an idea of what you can earn as a Colorado server. More importantly, how much you can earn will depend on how good you are at your job and what type of food/beverage establishment you work at, and how consistently busy it is.
Also, many people that work at restaurants or similar establishments are willing to work more than 40 hours per week so they might qualify for overtime pay.
If the average food item on the menu is $14-$18 and the restaurant mainly serves wings, burgers, quesadillas, nachos, fries, and similar snack-style food, then the average check for the table you serve will be much less, and therefore, the percentage tip against the total check will result in you earning less per table you serve and you’ll have to serve many tables during your shift.
On the other hand, if you work at a finer dining restaurant or one that is really busy and serves steak, seafood, and other higher-priced menu and beverage items and each guest is spending $40-$60 or so including beverages, then you stand to earn more money as the total check for each table you serve will be that much higher and the percentage tip you receive on a higher check will be a lot more.
Perhaps the most important takeaway from this is that, as a Colorado employer, it is your responsibility to pay your servers a minimum hourly rate + tip credit that equals or surpasses the Colorado minimum wage in the event that your servers do not earn enough to meet the $13.65 per hour threshold.
Failing to do so will be breaking federal and state laws. Equally, it is important that as a server working in Colorado, you know your rights and how much you should be paid with your hourly wage and tip credits.
If you have specific questions about the laws surrounding the minimum wage for servers (tipped employees) from both an employer and employee perspective, you can contact the Colorado Department of Labor and Employment. Additionally, if you are an employee who isn’t being paid what you legally should be, you can file a complaint with them too.