A recent TikTok video has fueled the long-running debate over tipping, which is quite the hot topic in our current economy. Who should be paying a server’s wages—the employer or the customer? And, if you can’t afford to tip a “proper” amount, should you go out to eat in the first place? The opinions are strong—and they are extremely mixed.
The Great Applebee’s Debate
In a TikTok video, an Applebee’s employee at the Staten Island, NY location showed off a credit card receipt left by a customer. It shows the server was given a tip of $6.55 on a $73.45 dinner bill, for a grand total of $80. On the receipt, the customer wrote, “You was great holidays are just rough right now.”
The tip amount was noticeably less than the “gratuity examples” of 18 percent ($12.14) and 20 percent ($13.49). In the caption, the user asked for thoughts about this tip amount.
It’s An American Thing
Tipping your server is a common practice that’s become expected in America, unlike other countries across the globe. Restaurant waiters and waitresses are legally recognized as “tipped employees,” which means they will receive what’s called a “server’s wage” from their employer.
This amount is usually just a small percentage of a state’s minimum wage. In my state, the server’s wage is $2.13 per hour. It’s been that way since I started waiting tables back in the mid ’90s.
If a server doesn’t earn enough tips to at least get to their state’s hourly minimum wage during the scheduled workweek, then the employer is responsible for paying the difference. That means all servers make at least minimum wage no matter what. But, there’s also the opportunity to make well above that rate.
In my serving experience, those Wednesday lunch shifts when I took home $20 bucks were forgotten during the Saturday dinner shifts when I took home $200.
Who Should Pay?
In the TikTok video’s comment section, opinions on tipping came pouring in. The two most popular were, of course, polar opposites. One side claimed tipping should be “banned” and that employers should be required to pay servers more.
“Ban tipping. Force the restaurants to pay servers living wages,” one user wrote. Another added, “Tips shouldn’t even be a thing. Waiters should be paid like other jobs and tipping should be banned like in other countries.”
The other side argued that servers know the compensation structure of their job and should find another job if they aren’t happy.
“Tips aren’t mandatory. They left a note. Be understanding. You chose this line of work. Roll with the ups and downs with waitressing. That’s life,” one user argued. Another added, “Tips are voluntary, not mandatory. People know the job they sign up for doesn’t guarantee tips. What a sense of entitlement.”
One server chimed in and wrote, “As a server, I love what I do. Sometimes you’ll get a bad tip. It happens, then someone else comes in and double tips and makes up for it.”
The pro-tipping side also argued that if you can’t afford to pay for service, then you shouldn’t be eating out.
Should servers have to depend on tips to make a living? Or, should employers be required to pay a higher fixed wage? For now, it’s up to their customers to give them a pay bump for performance.