Hotel Housekeepers: Tipping as Hazard Pay?

hotel housekeepers

The New York Times has an article about failure of most hotel guests to give low-paid, hard-working housekeepers a much appreciated tip. Aside from the hard work they do,  the Times also notes the hazards of the job.

Angela Lemus, a housekeeper at the Wyndham Boston Beacon Hill who makes $19.91 per hour, said through a translator that in addition to scrubbing tubs and taking out trash, she sometimes has to clean blood or other medical waste from rooms….Desk clerk jobs don’t require the flipping of heavy mattresses or exposure to cleaning chemicals that can lead to respiratory and other health problems. Ms. Lemus, for example, developed an allergy to the latex gloves she was required to wear while cleaning. “It went on for years, and it got so bad my hands started to bleed,” she said. “I couldn’t let people see my hands.”

And let’s not forget musculoskeletal disorders from lifting bed mattresses and the threat of workplace violence from guests.

But are these really the same issue?  Are tips the solution to dangerous working conditions, or is elimination of hazards the solution to safe working conditions?  The Occupational Safety and Health Act says that all workers have a right to a safe workplace, whether they receive tips or not.

Implying the tips make it OK to work in hazardous conditions makes them sound like “hazard pay” and hearkens back to the good old pre-OSHA days where workers allegedly agreed to “assume” the risks of a job in return for a paycheck.

We’ve supposedly come a long way since then. Workers — even hotel housekeepers — deserve a living wage (including tips) for their work, AND workers have right to a safe workplace.

Hospitality and Hotel Workers


  1. I’m a housekeeper at a hotel in Newport news VA. Tips don’t keep us from dying from this virus it’s just sad how we are treated we are the backbone of the hotel .

  2. I was a housekeeper for the last 3yrs. I have just recently quit (2weeks ago). For the this last year I went to the motel and worked every single day. I did not have a single day off for 6 months straight. I even went to work during the North Carolina State wide shut down. Rooms where still beinging rented out, it was very scary not a day went by that someone was at the motel telling me they had to leave there own town because so many of there friends and family where sick with the VIRUS. I was still told to go clean the rooms EVERYDAY for $5.00 a room. I was also told NOT TO WASTE GLOVES, I should try to clean as many rooms as possible with one pair.. THAT’S NASTEY… I could have gotten sick or my 2 kids sick, my husband is in remission with cancer, I put them in danger and everyday 6-7 rooms with the same pair of gloves and only got $5.00 a room. Could someone tell what I could do to get some kinda back pay or something… PLEASE

  3. I work at a motel I am a manger of housekeeping we deserve to get hazard pay we deal with lot we have close connect with cob 19 we clean rooms,we deal with close connect with guess everyday.we deal with blood,puck,and other issuess.i work 7 days weeks I always have fear for my self and my other housekeepers that I manger everyday goes by we do extra cleaning to keep the motel clean at all times I have been do housekeeping for 8 years now its rough to deal with our wages are cut we barley make a check we have the right to get something for being front line worker I don’t get unemployment because I am on dad I I get 300 month and little bit from the motel its sad I can’t get even unemployment the state of wi unemployment miss unstood the law we are the ones that suffering

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