What is the Minimum Wage for Servers in Hawaii?

Author: Jason Coles

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If you are a server in Hawaii or are considering becoming one, then you should know what the minimum wage is for servers in Hawaii to see if you are being paid the correct amount, or whether this is a job you would like to do. The laws surrounding the Hawaii 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. Hawaii 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 Hawaii

So, what is the minimum wage in Hawaii for waiters and waitresses? The minimum cash wage for servers in Hawaii is the same as the tipped minimum wage in Hawaii, which is $11.00 per hour. This is the minimum per hour that a Hawaii server must be paid and that a Hawaii employer must pay its servers. The graphic below shows the HI server minimum wage rate.

Hawaii Server Minimum Wage 2023 (Minimum Cash Wage and Tip Credits)

$11.00 per hour, is less than the regular minimum wage in Hawaii, but it is still generous when compared with many other states. However, Hawaii servers are required to be supplemented by their employers via “tipped credit”, which is, in Hawaii’s case, only $1 per hour, making the server minimum wage in Hawaii a total of $12.00 per hour. This is the same as the regular minimum wage in Hawaii which applies to all types of employees that work in the state.

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 generally applies to bartenders, hotel workers, some airport workers, valet car parking attendants, some tourism industry workers, and pretty much any job role where tips are the primary income for the employee.

In Hawaii, servers must be paid a base minimum cash wage of $11.00 per hour. The expectation is that Hawaii servers will make at least an additional $1 per hour in tips on average across their pay period, and if they do, then the employer is only obligated to pay a Hawaii server $12.00 per hour.

Let’s assume that a server does not make at least $11.00 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 Hawaii server a tip credit of up to $1 per hour, so the server makes a minimum of $12.00 per hour for the duration of the pay period or week that they worked.

Average Server Salary in Hawaii (2023)

If you are a server or are looking to work as a server in a restaurant or similar service-related business in Hawaii, knowing the hourly wage for servers is important, but knowing what you can expect to earn is even more crucial.

Most Hawaii servers will not be satisfied with just earning $12.00 per hour, because based on working 35-40 hours a week, they would only earn $420-$480 per week, and when you compare this to the cost of living in Hawaii, you may struggle to make ends meet.

How much do servers make in Hawaii?

The average server hourly wage in Hawaii (according to the job website Indeed.com) is $12.25 per hour, not a lot more than the minimum wage. 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 $98 (8 hrs x $12.25). If you worked five days per week and rounded your daily pay to $100, then you could earn about $500 per week.

If you took just two weeks off a year and worked for 50 weeks you could earn $24,500. If you decided to take 3 weeks off per year, then you could earn 49 x $490 = $24,010 for the year. This, of course, is before Hawaii income tax.

The above calculations are just averages to give you an idea of what you can earn as a Hawaii server. The most important aspects of 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 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-$20 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 tourism-heavy and serves steak, seafood, and other higher-priced menu and beverage items and each guest is spending $40-$60 or so, 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.

Final Thoughts

Perhaps the most important takeaway from this is that, as a Hawaii employer, it is your responsibility to pay your servers a minimum hourly rate + tip credit that equals or surpasses the Hawaii minimum wage in the event that your servers do not earn enough to meet the $12.- per hour threshold.

Failing to do so will be breaking federal and state laws. Equally, it is important that as a server working in Hawaii, 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 Hawaii Wage Standards Division. Additionally, if you are an employee who isn’t being paid what you legally should be, you can file a complaint with them too.

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Jason Coles

Jason Coles is the Founder of Foreign USA and its Chief Content Writer and Editor. Recognized as a prolific business plan writer by many prominent immigration attorneys in the U.S., Jason has written over 1,200 business plans over the past 16+ years for start-ups looking to establish and expand their footprint in the United States.