Tipping Thread Appendix A (tipped wage discussion)

I remember a few tipping threads on the old FWF and I don’t know if we’ve had a good tipping thread here yet. But the discussion over in the labor shortage thread got me thinking. I don’t remember a good discussion about tipping that was focused on the changing minimum wages for tipped employees and how different states vary. Washington DC just passed initiative 77, which if implemented, would raised the minimum wage for tipped employees to $15/hr, so this is especially relevant now.

So here’s my question…
Should a waiter’s tip be partly dependent on how much they are paid by their employer?
Waiters in most of the country get $2.13/hr. They also must make minimum wage ($7.25/hr) after their tips or their employer has to make up the difference. In practice, the “employer must make up the difference” minimum wage means very little because, as was pointed out in the other thread, employees that don’t make the minimum and speak up about it are likely to be fired. So the real consideration is for states that have a minimum cash wage that applies to tipped employees and that employers are required to pay regardless of the amount of tips they earn. I am putting those states in the response bot wiki below. If you see any errors, or want to add or change things as the laws change, feel free to edit the wiki.


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States that have a cash minimum wage over $5/hr that employers are required to pay regardless of the amount of tips employees get:

State Minimum Cash Wage Notes
Washington $11.50
California $10.50 or $11.00 Lower wage for employers with <26 employees
Oregon $10.25 $10.75 starting July 1, 2018
Alaska $9.84
Minnesota $7.87 or $9.65 Lower wage for employers making under $500,000 gross sales
Hawaii $9.35
Montana $4.00 or $8.30 Lower wage for employers not covered by FLSA and earning less than $110,000 in gross sales
Nevada $7.25 or $8.25 Lower wage for employers offering health insurance benefits
Connecticut $6.38 or $8.23 Lower wage for waiters, higher wage for bartenders
Arizona $7.50
Colorado $7.18

I don’t live in one of those states, but I’m wondering if I did or if I travel to one, should I consider adjusting my tip amount knowing that the waiter makes a higher base pay. If so, what should the calculation be? What are some averages we can use in that calculation, such as avg length of shift, average number of tables served per night, or average number of tables served per hour?

For example, lets say a waiter in Georgia works a 6 hour shift and has a 6 table section. Lets say the average table stays for 1 hour, and the waiter has a full section for 1 hour, a 2/3 full section for 2 hours, a 1/3 full section for 1 hour, and an empty section for 2 hours. That means they would serve 16 tables a night.

$2.13/hr for 6 hours = $12.78. $12.78/16 tables = $.80 per table.

Now lets consider the same waiter in California.
$10.50/hr for 6 hours = $63.00. $63.00/16 tables = $3.94 per table.
$3.94-$.80 = $3.14.

Should I take $3.14 off the top of my tip every time I dine out in California?

Sounds reasonable. But people still generally tip the same whether or not employers pay a high or low minimum.

Here’s data on tip rates by state:

I don’t see any real correlation between wages and tip rates.

For example Alaska has about the most generous tip rates but they also get a full minimum nearly $10/hr.

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Good question.

I think that if you took wages into affect to figure your tip rate when traveling to another state you’d end up tipping below average /typical rates. Of course thats your prerogative but you might just look like a cheapskate in the process.

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How much actual tippable labor goes into the meal? Your entire table’s meal probably represents 1/6th of an hour in labor costs (or less) at any place busy enough to exist in CA. So 1.50 in CA (11-2.13), and less in other states. This assumes a waiter can manage 6 tables an hour.

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You can look at it that way, but I think it’s better to look at it averaged over the whole day. When I was a waiter, I counted my tips and the end of the night and was extremely happy when I made $100. I could have made that $100 from 7:00 to 10:00, but I still had to work 5:00 to 11:00. You could say I made $33/hr from 7-10 and nothing from 5-7 and 10-11, but I still had to work those hours regardless of if I was making tips then. So I looked at it as making $16.67/hr. If the state isn’t allowing the employers to pay their waiters only during times that they aren’t making tips, then I think it’s fair to factor in those non-tipped times in the calculation.

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I agree you would definitely look like a cheapskate because of what the norm for tipping in the US has traditionally been. But you aren’t considered a cheapskate if you tip less (or nothing at all) when dining out in most European countries. So is that cheapskate characterization really fair considering the law changes in those states?

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Oh no it isn’t fair.

But if everyone else tips 15-20% and you tip 10% then you’re the cheapskate.

People in OR,WA, CA, AK, tip about the same as every other state. So if you come in and tip low then you’re a cheapskate.

Tipping is just a matter of social norm not logic.


I think it is logical to tip a certain amount when you know the person serving you is getting paid $2.13/hr (meaning that their pay is so low especially because they make tips). Has it become a norm because of that logic? Yes, I think the link you posted helps prove that claim.

The part that isn’t logical is that we tip a percentage of the bill rather than a flat amount based on the time and level of service we’ve received. I can think of dozens of times I’ve had a waiter work harder during my meal at a cheap diner than at a nice restaurant, yet the social norm says the waiter at the nice restaurant should get more from me because the food (that they had no hand in preparing) was better crafted.

I suppose my thought to reduce the tip in certain states by a particular dollar amount rather than just lowering the percentage of my tip is an attempt to be more logical about tipping. Yet the 20% minus $3.14 is still illogical because of the base calculation of the tip (percentage rather than flat amount).

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The reason a lot of people give for why you should tip waitstaff is because of the low minimum wage they get. That argument goes out the window in states where the minimum wage isn’t different. So, if you feel you get bad service, I’d say it’s more ok to tip nothing or below the standard percentage. Because the primary argument for tipping on bad service (i.e. feeling bad for the waiter) doesn’t apply.

However, for good service I don’t think you really should be taking that difference into account. You’re tipping on the service you receive.

I have walked out of restaurants and had no qualms about leaving 0 dollars for bad service regardless of state. When I tell most people that their only argument is that servers make less than minimum wage.


Should tips be abolished and mandatory service charges made illegal? Yes :slight_smile:

This thread is a very bad idea. There was never once a “good” thread on FW about tipping. It always boiled down to the same old ultra cheap sociopaths who will continue to eat in restaurants despite knowing they are supposed to tip 20%, and the rest of us normies.

Same tired excuses were repeated again and again and will be repeated here. Just say it to get it over with: “I’m cheap and anti-social”.

Yes, I’m cheap. But I also worked as a waiter and was paid $2.13/hr. I made $12-18/hr with tips. I worked hard on pleasing my customers. I needed to because I needed their tips. But now, do waiters need my tips as much? It seems like the voters in several states have determined that their employers should pay them more. That means that the price of my meal will go up to cover that. If I’m still tipping the same amount, my tip has actually gone up in addition to my bill thanks to this government interference. Why isn’t it a legit question to ask if waiters still need those first three dollars when you consider all those factors?

“I’m cheap and anti-social;” and tired of the government dictating how much I show my appreciation for service good or bad. I currently tip 40% for good service and 0% for bad service. Both 40% & 0% is rare but it allows me to have the option to help influence my local commercial environment. The good servers are encouraged to improve their service. The bad servers change professions. I feel sorry for the dining customers in CA & WA, they have lost their economic voice and now have to tolerate poor servers.

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The government has said nothing at all about how much you tip.

Cheap and antisocial, that’s me. Or maybe it’s proven that tipping is a terrible way to reward effort not to mention it short change the hardest working people in the service industry. Funny too, the sheeps reward the rude servers more than the nicer ones as shown in one of the experiment done. But, don’t let the facts stop you.

eta, replying to sf, not meed.


You forgot OR and AK and a few otherzs.

And I’m not following your logic anyway. Fat minimum wages with tips on top don’t cause poor servers.

I’d think that basic market forces would cause higher capable people to pursue and fill higher paid jobs, not the other way around.

I’m actually happy to have people serving my food who make enough money to live.

Contrast that to the people working at a Sonic Drive in during the summer months in TX making $2.13 plus the tip on a $5 ticket…

CA is doing it wrong?

  1. A lot of tipped wage workers already make “enough money to live” and are against higher cash min wage laws because they think it will have a long term negative effect. Not because of people like me who might tip them less. The ones that work for mom and pop restaurants know that their owners’ bottom line isn’t large enough to keep from raising prices significantly or firing workers. Would you still vote for the law change because it makes you feel good even if you knew the people you were trying to help with the law change didn’t actually want the law changed?

  2. Do you have first hand knowledge that sonic carhops make the tipped min wage and not the normal min wage? I would bet that they make the normal minimum wage (or whatever sonic pays which is likely higher) because when you pay with a card, there is no option to leave a tip. I’ve never been to an establishment that accepts credit cards where tipped workers don’t have the ability to receive credit card tips.