Should Australians be required to tip waitstaff? 41% say no

Jul 01, 2021
Given Australia's adequate minimum wage, should we be required to tip? Source: Getty

A new survey has revealed that nearly half of the Australian population never tip waitstaff at restaurants.

Throughout Europe and the US, tipping is not only customary but also required, as many workers rely on gratuities to bolster the minimum wage. In Australia, we’re lucky enough to have an adequate minimum wage, so tipping has never been seen as necessary, but given the results of the survey, undertaken by Finder, it seems this may be shifting.

According to the findings, 41 per cent of Australians refuse to tip waitstaff at the end of a meal, while 39 per cent say they’ll tip if the service was exceptionally good, and just 1 in 5 (20 per cent) always leave a tip regardless of service.

The study surveyed 1,000 people and found that of those who do tip their waitstaff, 88 per cent give a percentage based on the size of their bill, with the average tipping amount sitting at 8.6 per cent.

The remaining 22 per cent leave a set amount of money regardless of how much the bill was.

Kate Browne, personal finance expert at Finder, said that in Australia customers aren’t expected to tip and encouraged people not to feel pressured to it, especially if you didn’t enjoy the meal or service.

“Fortunately in Australia hospitality workers make an adequate minimum wage which means staff shouldn’t have to rely on customer tips for income,” she said. “For that reason, customers are not usually expected to tip, but it is a nice way to reward good service, especially at a nice restaurant.

“Depending on the type of restaurant and the quality of your experience, tipping between 5 per cent and 20 per cent is generally considered the norm. But don’t feel pressured to tip if you didn’t enjoy your meal or found the service to be underwhelming.”

According to the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS), in the past year alone the average Aussie has spent $2,085 on restaurants, cafes and takeaway food. If they were tipping on just half of these occasions, it would be costing just over $100 a year.

Browne warned people to keep this in perspective, saying that paying off bills and other household expenses should be the priority.

“For some, tipping is a small price to pay for good service, but not everyone can afford the spare change,” she said. “If that money would be better spent on household bills, buying groceries, or paying off your credit card debt then that should be your priority.”

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