No, I won’t leave a tip in restaurants in Australia, says Caleb Bond

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No, I will not leave a tip for a restaurant.

When and why did this become commonplace in Australia?

It seems whenever a waiter or waitress brings an EFTPOS machine to the table now it first asks how much of a tip you want to leave.

You almost feel pressured to make an addendum to your bill as the staff member looks at you.

Worse is when you are delivered the bill and a pen for you to write the total you want to pay before sending your card back to the counter.

Are the staff judging me for not rounding it up?

I have no idea where this extra money will go. Is it equally divided among the waitstaff for the night or is it collected into a pool that is distributed to all, regardless of how many hours they’ve worked, at the end of the month? Do the chefs and kitchen hands and dishwashers get a cut? Do the restaurant owners take some – or does none of it actually make its way to the staff?

If you pay it through a machine, is the restaurant liable to pay corporate tax and staff income tax on that extra money which I intended to be a gift?

Who knows. No one seems to advertise their policy.

Tipping is common in the United States and other parts of the world with low or no minimum wages because that is how a waiter makes money. It makes sense in that application – you are more or less paying the staff directly instead of giving the money to the business to then redistribute.

But waitstaff are fairly paid in Australia. There is no need, nor should there be any pressure, to leave a tip.

On the occasion I (or some of my richer mates) have thoroughly enjoyed and appreciated the service of a waiter, we’ve slipped some cash in his or her pocket.

It seems only fair that, given it was that waiter who looked after us, the money is not touched by anyone else.

I don’t mind tipping, of my own volition, someone who has given exceptional service but it should not, under any circumstances, be an expectation.

The risk is that, should it become commonplace, businesses will use it as an excuse to eschew pay rises with the excuse that tips handled by the restaurant are already extra income.

They aren’t. They’re gifts. They are a direct thank you from a diner – not an income top-up.

Likewise cabbies who drive a car owned and licenced by someone else. If I’ve seen fit to give them a sling, I want it in their pocket – not on the balance sheet seen by the owner.

Australia does not need and should not encourage tipping culture.

Caleb Bond is an Sydney-based commentator and host of The Late Debate on Sky News Australia.

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