Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Tips on Tipping in North America

Are you annoyed by the increasing number of people who seem to expect tips just for doing their job? I find tips jars showing up in more and more shops these days.
However, in some cases workers really do depend on tips for a large share of their income. I was surprised to learn from one of my favourite PBS shows, Bill Moyers (www.billmoyers.com) recently that in the U.S., restaurant workers who receive tips have a minimum wage of just $2.13 per hour. That certainly helps explain why you can find some pretty good restaurant deals in the U.S.
Here in Quebec, on the other hand, restaurant workers who get tips also earn a minimum of $8.55 an hour, and that must be one of the reasons, along with high sales and other taxes, why dining out in Quebec is usually pretty expensive.
I personally would prefer that restauarnts just pay their workers decent wages, so we didn't have to try to figure out what is a reasonable tip. However, that doesn't seem to be likely to happen anytime soon in North America. Now that I know how much restaurant workers earn here, though, I certainly will consider whether I should always, as is my usual policy, just use the GST/PST amount (around 16 per cent) as a tip.
And in the U.S., I will be careful to tip 15 or 20 per cent as long as the service is decent, now that I know how little my server is probably earning. It seems pretty disgraceful that the country that prides itself on being the richest in the world can't afford to pay its relatively unskilled workers better. Working in restaurants used to be mainly a stop-gap job for students and others, but in today's job-starved economy it is turning into a career for a lot of people.


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