Tip the Server Too!

Posted by Dave W. | Monday, May 12, 2008 | ,, 0 comments |

As a follow up to the post I wrote on tipping pizza delivery drivers, I caught an article that relates to tipping servers in restaurants.  It’s from Thomas A. Mason at tip20.com titled Why Should You Tip?  Here are some of the things Mason points out that many people might not know regarding servers:

  • Hourly wages are typically significantly less in the service industry, because tips are considered part of the servers income. Your server does pay income taxes. In absence of proper documentation of tips, the government will look at the servers food and beverage sales and base their taxable tip income on a percent of it. So if you do not tip the server, it has actually cost the server money to serve you. 
  • Believe it or not, servers do not always get a paycheck.  Sometimes, because of the taxes they pay and/or deductions, servers must pay in to the company rather than get a check.
  • Your server has to tip too. It is very common for a waiter or waitress to have to tip out their supporting staff, ie; the bartender, buss person, food runners and others.  Bartenders may have to tip out their bar backs.  These tips are based often on the sales of the server, so if you don’t tip them, in addition to the 8% the government gets they often have to shell out money to the support staff putting them further in the hole.  Sometimes the support staff is tipped a percent of the servers tips.  So not tipping the server is the same as not tipping any of the hard working support staff in the restaurant.
Servers do a lot of work that they are not tipped on also. It is called side work and it is work that is done for no more than their hourly rate. Side work usually involves cleaning the restaurant, stocking supplies and getting the store ready for the next shifts business. Side work can be time consuming and at times physically straining.

The author makes some very good points, which most people don’t know and are I know are accurate from personal experience. When I served I made good money. However, I tipped out the busperson 10% of the cash I made and the bartender 10% on all alcohol sales. Since they have to claim tips too, it seems like double taxation, but that’s another post altogether. If someone ran up a large bar tap and tipped poorly, I could potentially be waiting on them for free since my money would go directly to the bartender. Because of having to claim tips on a certain percentage of cash sales (at least 10%), many times, I would be forced to claim MORE than what I actually made because the majority of sales were credit card sales, which I had to claim 100% of the tips.

Regarding the sidework issue, one thing the author says but doesn’t make clear is how much less servers’ base pay is. In Pennsylvania, they are paid $2.83/hour plus tips. So if they are doing sidework and have no tables, they only get paid $2.83/hour. Would you work for $2.83/hour? Probably not.

Think about these things the next time you go out to eat. Bad food? Don’t take it out on the server, they didn’t cook it. Bad service? See a manager; most managers will be more than willing to take care of any problems.