Don’t you dare use Monopoly money

Sometimes, eating a nice dinner at home doesn’t feel right. You decide to go to a restaurant with your friends. The waiter gives you excellent service and treats you like family throughout your stay. After the meal, you kindly ask for the check. As you’re paying, one of your friends suggests giving the waiter a tip for their service. For a second, you stare off into nowhere with no clue how much to give them.

For some people, tipping can be a hassle. If they’re running low on funds, they’ll feel bad about involuntarily dissing the worker. Some folks don’t feel like handing over any more money than what’s stated on the bill. For new workers, tipping might seem like a good thing. Unfortunately, there’s a horrible reason why it still exists in the workforce. We look at the history behind this and see if it’ll change in the future.

Here’s a little tip

Tipping found its mark in England in the 17th century. People of lower classes would get tipped for doing certain activities. This began to spread worldwide with businesses using tips to increase their monetary gain. In the restaurant industry, tipping didn’t just become something extra. It became the sole way waiters could get paid.

On average, restaurants in the United States pay waiters around $2.13 an hour. In order to afford an apartment for $1,200 a month, one would need to work 563 hours. If you tack on other bills, you’d have to basically work 24/7 just to get by.

Unfortunately, this kind of salary is legal thanks to a two-tiered system. This allows waiters to automatically make less money than others. Waiters are expected to gain minimum wage through tips, but it’s not always the case. Many people forget the common 10% rule when it comes to tipping. Some restaurants have enabled an automatic 15% tip for parties over eight people.

While this might seem like a break, the IRS says otherwise. In 2013, a bill was passed which allowed automatic tips to be taxable. This means a sweet $37 tip from a lively table gets whittled down to nothing.

A change is coming soon?

In recent years, some restaurants got rid of tipping and began paying waiters minimum wage. As expected, minimum wage played a huge part for some hesitant businesses. “There are a number of city mandates that are expensive, and the imminent $16 minimum wage is among those, so it’s been very much on restaurant owners’ minds how to compensate differently,” restaurant owner Thad Vogler told NPR.

Vogler attempted to abandon tips at their San Francisco restaurants. The kitchen staff earned around $20 an hour while the house staff gained $40 an hour. Despite the pay increase, Vogler started losing staff members on a regular basis. Vogler reverted back to tipping, which delighted many of the workers. “It really wasn’t happening after a year the way we had thought it might.

Financially, we wanted to be more one of the pack, while innovating more with food and drink and service,” Vogler also told NPR.

Circe Denyer/Needpix

To abandon tips, a restaurant would have to add an additional charge to the bill or increase prices. An increase in prices could drive customers away from the establishment. An additional charge, however, might not have the same reaction. As long as it’s a fair amount, folks will continue coming.

Waiters have the dreadful duty of getting paid next to nothing for serving people. With the struggling economy, they might not find a better job for months to come. Next time you’re at a restaurant, give them a bigger tip than expected. Behind their dead-tired eyes, they’ll be very thankful.

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