Are tips getting out of control?

When to tip

Tipping used to be a way of expressing gratitude for good service, but it was codified by the government years ago when it allowed workers in certain professions to earn a small hourly wage and get most of their income from tips. In those jobs, which include waiters and waitresses, delivery clerks, taxi drivers and bartenders, tipping is required. You are tipping to help pay their wages. In many ways, what you’re doing is leasing their time, Peters says.

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In these cases, a 15 to 20 percent tip is the standard, even if the service didn’t meet your expectations. A tip is anything above 15-20 percent, he says. There is one caveat. Some states, including Alaska, California, Minnesota, and Nevada, require all workers to receive the state’s full minimum wage. Several other states require companies to pay tipped workers a minimum cash wage in excess of $2.13 an hour, which is the minimum cash wage set by the Federal Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA). These changes put the onus on the customer to figure out if a tip is needed. Tipping is no longer the culture of the United States, it’s becoming a culture by state, Peters says.

States that pay tipped workers the full hourly minimum wage



Minnesota$10.59 Large Employers (Gross Annual Income Over $500,000) / $8.63 Small Employers (Gross Annual Income Below $500,000)

Montana$9.95 companies with gross annual revenues greater than $110,000

Nevada$10.50 for employers who do not offer health insurance to qualified employees; $9.50 for employers who offer health insurance



When it’s discretionary

If you feel guilty about not tipping the cashier at the checkout or the person who drives your groceries to you, don’t. Tipping in these situations is more discretionary than mandatory. In some cases, tipping is even frowned upon. Typically, in retail stores and grocery stores, their policy is not to accept tips, says Diane Gottsman, etiquette expert and owner of the Protocol School of Texas. Workers know the policy and could get in trouble for agreeing to it. Gottsman says to check the store’s policy before offering gratitude in the form of money. Walmart and Harris Teeter don’t want you to tip, but Target and Starbucks don’t have specific books policies.

As for establishments that allow their employees to accept tips, that’s completely up to you, even if you’re asked at the time of payment. If you hit No or skipped the request, don’t feel guilty, the person doesn’t rely on tips to earn a livable wage. If you think the person engaged and you’re grateful for their service, tip them.

Tip doesn’t have to be $20 for every person who helps you slightly, says Post. It is often a very small token amount. It’s a gesture, a way to add to your thank you.

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