Tipping etiquette is one of those culturally specific things that vary from country to country, and you’ve got to get it right wherever in the world you are. Remembering to tip waiters and waitresses in restaurants isn’t about ensuring that your food arrives uncontaminated and your service comes with a smile – in jobs where tipping is normal, employers often pay staff lower wages on the understanding that their staff’s pay packets will be bolstered by tips. So when customers don’t tip properly, workers struggle to make ends meet despite being some of the hardest working customer facing employees in any role.
In the UK, it’s customary to tip restaurant staff and cabbies in particular. And of course many restaurants add a service charge to their bill for you. This is the norm here, but head over to the United States and you’ll quickly learn thatit’s an absolute must to tip your bartendertoo. This can be a surprise to some Brits, but in the US you’ve got to give at least a dollarbackfor each drinkorbefore long you’ll be struggling to get attention at a busy bar.
The news story about an American waitress at the chain Applebee’s really highlighted the significance of tipping and the kind of attitudes that some people have towards this part of the transaction. A customer left a note refusing to tip their waitress the customary 18%, and when another waitress posted the note to Reddit she was fired for embarrassing the customer (despite their identity being unknown).
It’s interesting to see the way that changes in how we pay for things can affect those workers who rely on tips are able to make a living. A New York news website The Gothamist recently reported that tips for cab drivers have failed to keep up with rising fare rates since the option of paying by card became available in taxis there. A typical way to tip a cabbie is to tell them to keep the change – but when there’s no physical money involved you’ve got to consciously add the tip to your payment, and this has affected the way people tip.
In the UK you can easily find a credit card using a comparison service, and over two thirds of people already own one. So could we start to see a similar effect on those who work for tips in the UK? It’s something that employers should keep a close eye on to ensure that their staff are getting paid a living wage for the hard work that they do.
Wherever you are in the world, make sure you know what the custom around tipping is and try to make sure workers get paid fairly. This guide is a good place to start.