After a long day at work, when you’ve been on your feet for extended periods of time, with little or no breaks, the last thing anyone should have to do is pay their employer.
It sounds absurd, but this is a reality for many students who work in restaurants and bars.
I have been employed in the food service industry for the past five years as both a bartender and a server. The shifts drag on forever, I wear through shoes faster than you can imagine and multitasking has become a well-honed skill to add to my resume.
Why do I do it? The money can be great and is helping me pay my way through college. But sometimes, it’s quite the opposite.
In many establishments, something called a ‘tip out’ is required of servers and bartenders. This means that based on your sales for the day, you must pay both the kitchen and the bar (and sometimes the house) a percentage of what you’ve sold – regardless of whether you were actually tipped or not.
Here is my concern. If tips are never guaranteed, then why should someone have to pay a set amount based on money they may not even receive?
The consensus is that if you do a good job serving your guests, you will receive a good tip. This makes sense but due to uncontrollable circumstances it is not always the case.
If the kitchen is slow or fails to maintain an acceptable level of quality, your guests aren’t happy. And as the employee on the front line, servers are the ones who suffer. Guests will never come face to face with kitchen staff, so their anger or disappointment can only be put on their server. In more times than none, this will result in little to no tip.
When a guest decides not to tip, the sale is still made and the tip out is still due. This means the server will, in turn, be paying for that table to eat.
In other cases, servers provide outstanding service leaving guests with no complaints and smiles on their faces but they don’t tip. Maybe they can’t afford it, maybe they just don’t understand the concept of gratuity, or maybe they just don’t believe in tipping. Either way, it costs us money out of our own pockets.
On top of everything, individuals like myself in the food service industry receive an hourly wage which is considerably lower than the standard minimum wage. This means that tipping out just a few dollars could result in a wage of less than $5 an hour.
To me, it seems simple. If you can’t afford to tip, then don’t dine in. There are takeout options at most establishments and no one will expect a tip on a takeout order.
After all, would you want to pay for me to eat? Probably not and I’d rather not pay for you to do so either.