As minimum wage laws continue to increase, small businesses continue to pass on the buck to the consumer. Some argue passed on expensive make minimum wage increases completely ineffective. One such industry that is changing as minimum wage laws change is the restaurant industry. Many restaurants are changing the way their employees are paid. This begs the question, is it now okay to no longer tip in restaurants?

When Is It Okay To Not Tip A Waiter?

Minimum wage laws have changed the way many restaurants are conducting business. For example, here in San Diego some restaurants are increasing menu prices to keep up with mandatory wage hikes. This is a natural solution for restaurant owners but yet also an example of how wage hikes hurt other consumers. Some restaurants however, have found other solutions. Instead of increasing food item prices on the menu, some restaurants are adding a three percent surcharge onto the final bill.

Finally, one of the last solutions is for restaurants to eliminates tipping altogether. One restaurant I recently ate at added a twenty percent surcharge on to the check. The twenty percent surcharge was then split between the front of the house waitstaff and the back of the house kitchen staff. The option to even leave a tip on the credit card statement was completely eliminated. Thus, if one wanted to leave a tip, it must be done so in cash.

How Much Are People Still Expected To Tip?

When it comes to these these new restaurant bills, how much are we supposed to tip? Over the past several decades the expected percentage to tip has gradually increased. The types of businesses that also partake in the tipping custom has expanded far beyond restaurants and the hotel industry. Meanwhile, the cost of food and labor expenses continues to climb yet wages have been stagnant for decades in this country.

My Newer Tipping Policies

  • On restaurant checks that have a three percent surcharge I deduct that percentage from the tip that I normally would have tipped. I’m sorry, if you’re a waiter and you don’t like that, too bad. Take it up with the voters or politicians who approved the minimum wage hikes.
  • On restaurant checks that include a twenty percent surcharge added to the bill I no longer tip off of that. If you don’t like that policy then maybe you should consider working at a restaurant that doesn’t have that policy.
  • There are exceptions to both of these scenarios: if the service is incredible then I will tip extra. Minimum service however equals minimum tip.

Reader Questions On Tipping

  • Has anyone else had experience with restaurants changing the way they bill or tip?
  • Has this had an effect on your tipping practice?
  • If you’re an employee of any waitstaff, how do you feel this changes are having an impact on your wallet?

Disclaimer: I worked as a server in multiple restaurants throughout college and worked in tipping industries from 2001-2011 until my current career