Servers in restaurants work hard for their money.

We know that because we see them scurrying from table to table at busy mealtimes to make sure customers get the service they expect.

We also know that these servers get paid much less than minimum wage.

Thanks to the Fair Labor Standards Act, employers must pay tippable employees $2.13 an hour as long as they can prove that when they add that wage to their tips, the total adds up to the minimum wage of $7.25.

For many of these workers, they have few benefits like paid sick leave, vacation pay or retirement contributions. They often deal with inconsistent schedules and are more likely to live in poverty.

Most of us figure that our tips are going to the servers.

Under current law, tips can only be shared with staff members who deal directly with customers, which means cooks and dishwashers don’t share in tips. In cases where tips are generous, this could create pay disparities.

But a rule change proposed by President Donald Trump's Labor Department would take the tips out of the hands of servers and deliver them into the hands of restaurant owners.

According to this convoluted idea, the restaurant owner would take the tips of the servers — and then gladly, happily and willingly redistribute enough of that money back to the servers that the workers would at least make the $7.25 minimum.

Then, according to the Trump administration’s reasoning, the owners could also — and notice that word “could” — share some of the servers’ confiscated tips with back-of-the-house employees (who, by the way, usually earn minimum wage).

On what planet does this cumbersome system even begin to sound logical?

The Economic Policy Institute estimates that the proposed change would allow employers to pocket between $523 million and $13.2 billion each year.

The estimate is based on the assumption that restaurant owners would simply keep any cash over the amount needed just to ensure servers are brought up to the minimum wage.

And let's face it — that's probably an accurate assumption.

But here's what is even more troubling: The Economic Policy Institute's analysts estimate that the average tipped worker would lose about $1,000 each year under the proposed rule change.

That's outrageous.

And the mere idea of allowing that to happen should be totally unacceptable.

The real issue

The real issue — the actual problem — is America's entire tipping culture, as Shake Shack CEO Danny Meyer recently wrote in The Washington Post.

Changing the way tips are distributed, Meyer wrote, "is not the way to solve the problem. Tips themselves are the problem, and we need to stop relying on them as a means to compensate this massive workforce."

Meyer noted that our corrosive tipping culture also has the effect of increasing "the incidences of discrimination and guest-driven sexual harassment, as certain patrons expect something more in exchange for their tip than just speedy service."

Meyer's company has been eliminating tips and placing the full cost of staff compensation in menu prices — which in turn has reduced pay disparities between servers and cooks.

Clear benefits of eliminating tips

The benefits of eliminating tips, Meyer wrote, are obvious:

• It provides consistent, predictable wages for servers.

• It leads to a better work-life balance for servers who can’t work weekends when restaurants typically have more patrons and, theoretically, more tip money to earn.

• It reduces the current unhealthy dynamic that now empowers many restaurant diners to sexually harass or otherwise behave inappropriately toward servers.

Changing such an ingrained American cultural tradition won’t be easy.

Or quick.

But, as Meyer wrote, getting the government involved might actually make things worse.

Indeed, the proposed rule change would do exactly that.

The Trump administration should take this half-baked idea back to the kitchen — and then dump it swiftly into the trash can.