Advice

People Dish About Eliminating Tipping And Giving Servers A Living Wage

The system we have in the US for paying our restaurant staff is...well, broken. Wait staff's income is largely dependent on what they make in tips, so if it's a slow week they may find themselves quite short on funds.


There has been quite a bit of discussion about what we can do to fix this, including abolishing the system of tipping (much of the rest of the world thinks we're quite strange for it anyway).

A Reddit user who has since deleted their account wanted to continue this conversation, so they asked:

"Fellow Americans, How would you feel about eliminating tipping in exchange for providing a livable wage for the service industry?"

Many of the responses were well thought, and make excellent points.

I live in NYC and there are a few restaurants with a no-tipping policy. They provide a salary and health benefits to their staff. Overall the food is a little pricier, but without tipping it evens out. I enjoy it more because I don't feel like they are constantly trying to upsell me and the social interaction doesn't feel monetized. It's nice.

-lisac132

Thats exactly how it feels in europe. You arent trying to be rushed out the door.

-hootie303

This is restaurants in the rest of the world. lol

-Aidybabyy

I really like how my company handles it. They pay us a very reasonable wage, and we do make tips, but evenly distribute it based on hours worked. So it really just feels like an extra bonus rather than a necessity to live on.

-Readit1807

That's pretty good. Incentivises good service without f*cking over your employees

-TribalFitnessCoach

I've only ever had two kinds of jobs ; those with minimum wage and those where I was tipped. I've always been better off with my tipping wages versus the "flat" hourly. I'm a bartender now and I can make a somewhat decent living.

-Missat0mic0mbs

Same man, the only reason I'm against the idea is because I would take a huge dip in pay. As a bartender in Chicago I make about $30/hour on the weekends

-Galileo258

I'm all for it, but no one in the industry will ever go for it. Restaurants like it because they don't have to pay as much. Waitstaff like it because they make good money off tips. If we move the other way, restaurants will pay more and waitstaff will make less no way it'll ever change.

-terrorpin

It would take a lot of uncertainty out of the job, pizza delivery driver here. Though I'm sure a lot of servers and bartenders would complain about not making 50-100 dollars+ an hour anymore. I'd think people could still leave tips for really outstanding service.

Edit: been a server, worked in food industry fine and not for over 10 years. I know a lot of people in the industry. Mileage will vary. Obviously. I live in portland Maine.

-steelman

Most of these comments seem to be missing the point. Of course wait staff want to keep tips for all the reasons given herein. What's missing (as far as I can see) is why is waiting one if the last professions (in the States) where the burden of compensation is placed directly on the patron? US native here who knows the custom well, but has been abroad long enough to see it for the sham that it is. If the establishment has to raise prices to fully compensate their wait staff, then so be it. It keeps out the riff raff who won't pay the extra difference and stiffs because they're not obligated. A gratuity is just that. Something extra for doing your job exceptionally well. It shouldn't be a substitute for fair compensation.

Look forward to all the waiters down voting e to oblivion, but in what rational world does this still make sense?

-The_Quibbler

This kind of happened In Maine and it was quickly turned around by the public. For every person that complains they don't make enough in tips there is someone walking away with 200+ a night in their pockets. I've spent 12 years in the service industry. Sure, when it's slow wait staff makes less. But on a busy night hands down wait staff makes more than most in the kitchen. Same with bartenders.

This has variables though which makes it difficult. If you work in a small place with low turnover your likely to make less. If you work in a small town diner and deal with a lot of regulars you will most likely make less. Fine dining tends to pull in more. Same goes for high volume, high turnover places.

Let me shed some light on what happens in lots of restaurants. Most line cooks that are in charge of a station and have an important role make 12-15 an hour if they are lucky. (Some states have higher wages but I'm talking Maine here). OR they get shift pay. The last fine dining place I worked was shift pay and it's the main reason I don't cook anymore. You would work 10 to 14 hours a day with little or no breaks. 5 or 6 days a week. You would get 2 staff meals and a shift drink. That would earn you 125 to 150 a day. Sure that sounds great. Then you talk to the wait staff. They come in a 3pm, leave at 11pm. Have very little prep and are responsible for a 4 table section. They would work 4 or 5 days a week. On a slow night it's not hard to walk out with 250 in tips. Remember this is fine dining so the tip percentage is higher. On a busy night 300 to 400 easy. If you got a VIP in your section that number could easily double. Like I said this is one place and it is defiantly not the norm but it is quite possible to make a very comfortable living off of a tipped wage.

-PM_ME_UR_PUFFY

Can't it be a hybrid system where they make a livable wage but you can still reward them for good above-and-beyond type service with a small tip? They're not mutually exclusive you know...

-Choosecharmander

I know the service industry would be against it, but personally, I really dislike the concept of tipping. It can also promote the concept of those with more money will get better treatment/service.

-redneder

Bartender/Server here, 6yrs experience. What I want is a higher hourly, and then to get some pay based on commission.

Yeah, tipping is messed up. It grossly disadvantages minorities and non-conventionally-attractive folk, and yeah it sucks to have money go down the drain because someone sucks at math, doesn't know dining etiquette, or accidentally takes their credit card slip home with them.

But a flat rate isn't good, either. Some shifts are busier than others, some people haul ass more than others, and upselling the expensive stuff is all part of job. With a flat hourly, no one would want the busy Friday night shifts when they know they'd make the same amount of money on a Tuesday afternoon.

So, solution: Tie pay directly to sales but on a consistent basis. Do hourly+ commission. Most other sales-based industries have this feature, and to some extent the restaurant industry -already does this- (auto-grat, anyone?).

The more money you make for the restaurant, the more you get paid. That's how it should work, anyway.

-AsterEsque

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