[Sca-cooks] food manners/tipping

Celia des Archier celiadesarchier at cox.net
Thu Nov 2 01:43:58 PST 2006

On Wednesday 01 November 2006 4:54 pm, Margaret Rendell wrote:
> Is low wages for waitstaff, augmented (hopefully) up to something
> liveable by tips, standard across the US, or does it vary? Canada?
> European countries?

And Colin replied:
<<As far as I know, waitstaff across the US is paid a pittance on the
that they will make up the balance with tips.  They are exempt from the 
minimum wage laws and are paid far less than minimum wage.  The expected tip

for average service is in the 15% range.  Less than 15% indicates
service and good service easily deserves 20%.>>

Federal law allows for a "tip credit" to be applied towards the minimum
wage, so that employers can pay tip earners lower than minimum wage on the
assumption that their tips will bring them up to minimum wage.  Currently,
minimum wage is $5.15/hr and the federal maximum tip credit is $3.02.  That
means that, unless state law sets a higher standard, tip earners can be paid
as low as $2.13/hr.  And federal law defines a "tip earner" as anyone who
earns a minimum of *$30/**MONTH** in tips.  

Only 7 states (AK, CA, MN, MT, NV, OR and WA) and one territory (Guam) have
minimum wage and/or labor laws which do *not* permit wage credit, therefore
requiring that employers (or most of them, at least... in MN & MT, the
standards are different for "large" and "small" employers) pay their
employees *at least* minimum wage.  In addition, most of those states also
have higher minimum wages than the federal mandate requires (here in CA the
minimum wage is currently $6.75 and we're due for that to go up shortly, I

So, yeah... a person who grumbles because tip earners *should* be paid a
living wage and should not have to depend upon tips to "augment" their wages
(like me) has a valid gripe.  I have absolutely no problem rewarding good
service (25% is so much easier to figure than 15 {BG}), but I do have a
problem with paying inflated rates for my meal and then having to also
inflate my tip to ensure that the poor, overworked, underpaid server can
make a living. 

I don't know the traditions in Canada.  In most of Europe (at least back
when I was a travel agent and was current on these things) and the UK they
add a "service charge" to the bill (used to be roughly 10%) and tipping was
not expected.  In some countries tipping is what it was originally intended
to be, a gratuity, and even a modest tip is a compliment... in a few not
leaving a tip, at least a symbolic one, would be an insult to the server and
in a few others tipping is actually an insult.  It is very much a cultural
thing, and the U.S. is definitely one of the exceptions where a "gratuity"
is expected regardless of the level of service given because the employer
isn't actually paying the wait staff for their services (or isn't paying
them a fair amount.) 


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