If you are a server in Tennessee or are considering becoming one, then you should know what the minimum wage is for servers in Tennessee to ensure you are being paid the correct amount, or whether this is a job you would like to do.
The Tennessee server minimum wage rate in 2023 is $2.13.
The laws surrounding the Tennessee 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 are those who provide and serve their customers with food and beverages in a restaurant or similar type of business where food and drinks are delivered to the table.
As part of providing this service, a server will typically receive tips (gratuities) for doing so.
Tennessee servers usually rely less on their low hourly tipped minimum wage and more on the generosity of the guests the server for their paycheck each week.
Tennessee Server Minimum Wage 2023
So, what is the minimum wage for a bartender in Tennessee? The minimum cash wage for servers in Tennessee is the same as the tipped minimum wage in Tennessee, which is $2.13 per hour.
This is the minimum per hour a Tennessee server must pay and a Tennessee employer must pay its servers. As you can see from the following graphic, the minimum wage for servers in Tennessee has not increased over the past several years.
Server Minimum Wage in Tennessee (Minimum Cash Wage and Tip Credits)
$2.13 per hour is not much at all, but if tips are not sufficient enough Tennessee servers are required to be supplemented by their employers via “tipped credit”, which is, in Tennessee’s case, $5.12 per hour, making the server minimum wage in Tennessee a total of $7.25 per hour.
The regular minimum wage in Tennessee for all types of employees follows the federal minimum wage guidelines that have been in their current form and rate since 2008.
Tennessee 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 at least the difference via tips per hour during each week or pay period.
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, airport attendants, other workers in the hospitality industry, and pretty much any job role where tips are the primary income for the employee.
In Tennessee, servers must be paid a base minimum cash wage of $2.13 per hour. The expectation is that Tennessee servers will make at least an additional $5.12 per hour in tips on average across a working week, and if they do, then the employer is only obligated to pay a Tennessee server $2.13 per hour.
Let’s assume that a server in Tennessee does not make at least $5.12 per hour in tips as an average over the course of a working week, then the employer must step in and pay the Tennessee server a tip credit of up to $5.12 per hour, so the server makes a minimum of $7.25 per hour for the duration of the week or pay period they worked.
Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) and Tipped Employees
The Federal Fair Labor Standards Act, also known as the FLSA, is a federal law from the U.S. Department of Labor.
This law establishes a national minimum wage, defines classifications for employees, and covers other essential standards and requirements for employers.
Federal law requires that employers make tipped employees aware of the cash wage paid (currently, the national direct hourly salary is $2.13 per hour), let them know about the tip credit, and explain any tip pooling systems at the workplace.
Tennessee Server Minimum Wage History
The table below showcases the current rate and history of the Tennessee server minimum wage over the past few years.
You can see when there were increases in the server minimum wage, which includes not only the tipped minimum wage rates but the tipped credit rates too.
|State||Tipped Server Wage||Tip Credit||Total|
|Tennessee Server Minimum Wage 2023||$2.13||$5.12||$7.25|
|Tennessee Server Minimum Wage 2022||$2.13||$5.12||$7.25|
|Tennessee Server Minimum Wage 2021||$2.13||$5.12||$7.25|
|Tennessee Server Minimum Wage 2020||$2.13||$5.12||$7.25|
|Tennessee Server Minimum Wage 2019||$2.13||$5.12||$7.25|
|Tennessee Server Minimum Wage 2018||$2.13||$5.12||$7.25|
|Tennessee Server Minimum Wage 2017||$2.13||$5.12||$7.25|
|Tennessee Server Minimum Wage 2016||$2.13||$5.12||$7.25|
|Tennessee Server Minimum Wage 2015||$2.13||$5.12||$7.25|
|Tennessee Server Minimum Wage 2014||$2.13||$5.12||$7.25|
|Tennessee Server Minimum Wage 2013||$2.13||$5.12||$7.25|
|Tennessee Server Minimum Wage 2012||$2.13||$5.12||$7.25|
|Tennessee Server Minimum Wage 2011||$2.13||$5.12||$7.25|
|Tennessee Server Minimum Wage 2010||$2.13||$5.12||$7.25|
|Tennessee Server Minimum Wage 2009||$2.13||$5.12||$7.25|
|Tennessee Server Minimum Wage 2008||$2.13||$4.42||$6.55|
Average Server Salary in Tennessee (2023)
If you are a server or are looking to work as a server in a restaurant or similar service-related business in Tennessee, knowing what you can expect to earn is very important for your well-being and livelihood.
Most Tennessee servers do not take a position at a restaurant or cafe assuming they can only earn $7.25 per hour, because based on working 35-40 hours a week, they could only earn about $255-$290 per week.
What Do Servers Get Paid in Tennessee
The average server hourly wage in Tennessee (according to the job website Indeed.com) is $14.52 per hour.
So, if you were to work an 8-hour shift or a total of 8 hours in a day across a couple of shifts, you could earn (on average) about $116.16 (8 hrs x $14.52). 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, or a total amount of time that was the equivalent of about 3 weeks off, then you could potentially earn 49 x $580 = $28,420 for the year.
This, of course, is before Tennessee income tax has been deducted and any federal taxes that you may incur on your income.
The above calculations are just averages to give you an idea of what you could earn as a Tennessee server. The most important aspects of how much you can earn will depend on how good you are at your job, what type of food/beverage establishment you work at, and how busy the restaurant/cafe or bar is.
Also, many people that work at restaurants or similar establishments are willing to work more than 40 hours per week which may make them qualify for overtime pay.
If the average food item on the menu is $10-$18 and the restaurant mainly serves wings, burgers, subs, nachos, and similar snack-style food, then the average check for each guest or table will not be that high, and therefore, the percentage tip against the total check could result in you earning a lower amount of tips 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, then you could 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 that much more.
As a Tennessee employer, it is your responsibility to pay your servers a minimum hourly rate + tip credit that at least equals the Tennessee minimum wage in the event that your servers do not earn enough to meet the $7.25 per hour threshold.
Failing to do so will be breaking federal and state laws. Equally, it is important that as a server working in Tennessee, you know your rights and how much you should be paid each week based on your hourly wage and tip credits.
If you have specific questions about the laws surrounding the minimum wage for servers in Tennessee (tipped employees) from both an employer and employee perspective, you can contact the Tennessee Department of Labor and Workforce Development.
Additionally, if you are an employee who isn’t being paid what you legally should be, you can file a complaint with them too.