Would You Rather Work For $30 An Hour Or Be Self Employed?

I am quite happy with our situation as waiters here in Canada due in large part to our higher hourly wage that waiters are paid here compared to that of our friends in the States.

But if I did find myself having to work for $3.00 an hour I don’t think I would remain a waiter for much longer afterwards. The only way I would is if I could work as a self employed person and claim my expenses at year end. Naturally I would have to put some of those earnings into the government pension plan and take out some kind of health insurance to cover myself for medical needs , but the expenses I could deduct such as dry cleaning , gas , insurance and whatever else I would be eligible for would lessen the tax load I would have to pay each year. Hey I might even get some money back which would be cool.

Last year this mortgage broker said rather than just have a small amount of earnings showing on my year end tax stub that by being self employed banks would look more favourable toward me because it would look more legitimate. Getting loans and mortgages would be easier. That is how hard it is for waiters to get mortgages up here. It is a profession looked down upon by financial institutions. I am pretty sure in the States it is viewed the same way. I know some waiters have a mortgage there but it must be tough to get one.

Well like I said everything worked out fine and I got a good mortgage with a bank anyway a few months later so I did not have to ponder going that route. I also make enough on my cheque so that I can pay taxes.

But what about down in the States where their hourly wage is so small that the server is practically self employed anyway having to rely on pretty much 100% of their tips to eke out a living. Wouldn’t it be better if the government down there just allow waiters to be self employed and deduct expenses?

Or I guess employers wouldn’t like it because now rather than have workers under their control they would be self employed. Yeah that could cause a problem. Too much power to the waiter. Maybe there would be fighting over sections , sharing of job responsibilities etc..

Okay maybe I am making too much into this but at $2.13 an hour it is slavery of the modern age. I would rather make $30 an hour and forget the tips and pay into a benefit plan. It would make getting mortgages a lot easier that is for sure.

It is a delicate topic to speak of but to tell you the truth the $30 an hour waiter job might be better off. It would lessen employee turnover and get more new people entering the field looking at the profession as a career and not something to do till what they really want to do comes to fruition.

I will be honest I don’t see too many here that are bright stars coming up in the waiting industry. Not many are entering it saying they want to make a career out of it. It is all part time stuff so why would anyone want to stick it out. I think in the next 5-10 years there is going to be a paradigm shift in the waiting industry. Either employers will have to find new ways to entice good employees to stay or the governments will have to introduce a way to lessen the hardship many waiters feel when they walk out with $50 and they have bills due the next day. That is just because the income is unpredictable and not so much that a server cannot budget.

We will see what happens but the ones that will win are the restaurants that know very well how to take care of their employees. Maybe pay that extra dollar an hour or throw in the benefit package because in a few years with the cost of living going up people are not going to be tipping anymore than they are today. That should not come as a surprise to you. Just look at what you earned last year during Valentine’s Day or the year before and it probably was the same this year. Maybe even less!

It is not rocket science , just a fact. Some changes need to take place to encourage the new people to enter the restaurant job market and stick.

Anyone have any comments?


  1. I'm happy with the way things are. I've never made less that $15 an hour since day one (with the exception of the training period, of course). Currently I make around $25 an hour. I can't see any better wages going to either an hourly, monthly or yearly salary or going "self-employed".Nobody's really getting mortages right now, but as long as you claimed all of your tips as required by law, your waiting job didn't keep you from getting a mortgage before the financial crisis. They looked at the bottom line and that's yearly salary and time on the job (and of course, the other stuff that everyone else is subject to like late payments and debt/income).We have 4 waiters where I work that own 12 houses between all of them. They are pretty successful landlords as well as being waiters.I guess it's all what you get used to in terms of hourly wage. Some of us grumble about it, but I wonder what they'd think if menu prices had to go up to guarantee them a "real wage". I'd wouldn't be surprised if we didn't take a hit in income due to the loss of business and the fact that my restaurant now would have a lot more control of what I'm making. I kind of like not having them control much of my income. I like the fact that they don't have to lay off people if business slacks off like they have to cut food costs during the same period. But, as I said, it's all about what you get used to. It's nice to make $1000 in 4 days on occasion. I've always counselled people who ask, "Should I wait tables?", "Ask yourself if you need security. If you are very risk-adverse, you might not like the lack of security regarding your income. Plus, you need to have a certain amount of discipline to keep from dishing off shifts when you really need to work".Fortunately, in most cases, the American public tips well enough to make up for the lack of hourly wages. I can't think of another non-management service job that pays as well. Not by a long shot. But it takes a certain mindset to deal with the uncertainty.That's just my opinion. I know that it's not univerally shared.

  2. Teleburst…good points you make. Banks are bit more lenient in the States. Here it is tough to obtain a mortage if you are a waiter no matter how much you make. That acts as a deterrent to many who want to make it a career. That is why our banks didn't collapse last year. Too strict.

  3. It's actually not that bad being a water here. My mom works as a water at a sit-down mid-priced family restaurant, makes $4 an hour, but usually racks in a couple hundred bucks a night. If you manage to get bar duty on a weekend and score overtime, you can bring 4 figures over fri-sat-sun.

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