Server shares why she thinks putting the onus on businesses to pay servers a livable wage doesn’t make sense

@imjustrobb/TikTok New Africa/ShutterStock (Licensed)

‘Servers are not going to go above and beyond for guests’: Waitress says servers shouldn’t be paid a living wage

‘I think a lot of ppl would reconsider working at a restaurant.’

 

Braden Bjella

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In the United States, tipped workers have a minimum wage of $2.13 per hour, with the rest of their income being made up in tips.

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While some servers have made a substantial amount of money from this system, others have complained about the numerous faults that come with such an arrangement.

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For example, basing a server’s wages on their tips makes their payment incredibly inconsistent, which can present issues when budgeting for things like everyday expenses and rental payments.

In response to issues like these, some have called for the United States to abolish the tipping system altogether, instead asking for restaurants to simply pay employees a livable wage. 

TikTok user Robin (@imjustrobb) is not one of those people. In a video with over 23,000 views, Robin shares why she thinks a livable wage for servers is a bad idea, sparking discussion in the process.

Robin makes a few points in her video.

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First, she says that paying employees a livable wage would cause menu items to increase in price.

@imjustrobb Replying to @Kim.Kelly.Is.My.Friend. ♬ original sound – Imjustrobb

While she notes that many users in comments pointed out that this wasn’t the case in Europe, many countries in which do not have America’s tipped wage system, Robin retorted that those countries also have other social benefits such as free healthcare.

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It’s unclear how these two points are connected, though Robin seems to say that the living wage system would not work because “this place is a scam” while European workers are, in her view, supported by their governments. It is possible that Robin is saying that European restaurants can pay their workers less because the workers receive the benefits mentioned by Robin and therefore do not need to pay for these benefits out-of-pocket.

Robin then reiterates that menu item prices would increase. She also says that the quality of service would go down, as “servers are not going to go above and beyond for guests” once they lose the incentive to do so via earning a tip.

Robin’s hypothesis quickly provoked discussion on TikTok, with some agreeing with her point.

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“I think alot of restaurants would go under if they had pay us and I think a lot of ppl would reconsider working at a restaurant,” wrote a user.

“bae they wont get it until they become servers themselves,” added another. “i bet even after explaining all of this too they still wont get it.”

However, others pointed out flaws with the idea.

First, as mentioned by Robin in the video, many countries around the world do not require customers to offset servers’ wages with tips. Rather, servers are simply paid a wage like any other job and menu prices differ based on a variety of factors.

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For example, restaurant menu prices in Australia are similar to American menu prices, notes a 2020 article in CNBC. Tips are voluntary and, if given at all, are generally below 10% of a total bill. Despite this, servers earn an average of $28.21 AUD hourly, per Indeed, slightly above Australia’s living wage of $27 AUD an hour.

Second, there’s little evidence to suggest that tips actually correlate with good service, as Robin claims.

“Research suggests that the relationship between service quality and the size of the tips is very small,” writes Michael von Massow for The Conversation.

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Additionally, in a 2011 article for New York Times magazine, author Nate Silver polled “400 experienced international travelers” about which countries have the best service. Several of the top responses came from countries without tipping, suggesting that the proposed link between tipping and good service is inconclusive at best.

Back on TikTok, a few users continued to plead for higher wages for servers.

“paying servers 7 dollars a hour and the steak being 60/70 dollars is insane,” concluded a commenter.

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We’ve reached out to Robin via Instagram DM.

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