How much should you tip in restaurants? Irish tipping culture decoded – The Irish Times


Whether we like it or not, we have a tipping culture in Ireland and from 1 December any tip or service charge on a bill goes directly to the staff. Tips cannot be withheld and used to increase salaries beyond what has been contractually agreed, redeployed for staff uniforms or hidden away for staff parties.

Likewise, the shortfall of restaurateurs who used to take a share of the tips – a well-publicized international operator comes to mind – will mean that there will be an increase in the already rising prices of menus that are presented to us when we venture out for our Christmas cheer?

“I think anyone who is hungry for money will use anything to raise prices,” says Sadie Pearce, owner of Pilgrim’s restaurant in Cork with partner Mark Jennings. “I think if you raise your prices, be transparent and say, we’re raising our prices because we want to give our staff better pay, and if they’re honest about that, then yes. But not if they’re doing it just to make more money.

A few other adjustments may be necessary. Not only are employers required to post their cash and card tipping policies, they must also distribute them fairly. And this is where it gets a little murky.

Speaking to a number of people working indoors in restaurants in Dublin, it would appear that most new restaurants have a transparent policy similar to Pilgrim’s, where money is distributed evenly among all staff, front and rear. Of the House. However, there are a number of restaurants that operate a point system, where those of higher rank or longer service, such as chefs and managers, get a higher percentage of tips. That’s not good news if you’re the galley porter doing the heavy lifting in the back.

Don’t jump to the conclusion that old morons are the offenders here – that’s also a practice in some very fashionable places in town. Whether this policy can be deemed “fair” under the new legislation is another matter. There are no parameters in place to establish what is fair and equitable – it is subject to interpretation. But at least now this policy will need to be pinned down in black and white, rather than a verbal here-how-we-do-it, or restaurant staff discovering it by chance.

Many restaurants have a policy that a percentage of tips is “paid” to a trunk, with the server keeping the balance. At Bewley’s, which has a good reputation for transparency, rather than asking servers to give half their tips, sales per server – excluding tips – are calculated each night, and servers then contribute 4.5% of total sales. to share with the rest of the staff. Servers keep the rest of their tips, which means that in the summer – when Americans walk through the doors with a default setting of 20% tip – servers are fine, but times can be considerably lighter when there’s a room full of European tourists, unfamiliar with Ireland’s tipping culture, or after Christmas when no one feels like tipping a coffee. Then the 4.5 p. 100 come out of their float.

There is of course the gray area of ​​what works best for staff – tips paid by card or cash – but it gets even more complicated when a service charge is included in the bill.

“At the moment, we charge all of our customers a 12.5% ​​service fee. This is pooled at the end of the week and shared equally among all staff based on hours worked,” says Kevin Burke, chef/patron of Library Street restaurant in Dublin. “The kitchen, the front of the house, the kitchen janitor – if you work the same hours as someone next to you, you will get exactly the same amount of service. What we plan to do is change things up, where we only charge tables of six or more a service charge, and for the rest, tipping will be the responsibility of the guests at night. I hope the guys here will get more take home pay.

In high-end restaurants where there is no service charge, diners usually tip generously; 12.5% ​​is the norm, and in some cases tipping can be up to 20% of the bill. Library Street’s new approach, which was a staff decision, might therefore work better for them. Although service charges included on the bill are subject to 9% VAT, tips are not. Burke says if the trial doesn’t work, they’ll revert to the original service fee system.

But 20%? Are we losing control of ourselves? And is it something we can all afford? “I think the American culture of tipping that is seeping into Irish culture can sometimes be a little over the top right now because we’re all earning at least minimum wage and most servers would probably agree that 10% is very decent for most people,” is the view of a waitress who worked many years in the industry in Dublin. She points out that it’s quite different in the United States where tipping is considered part of the salary. Last summer, on a J1 visa, she earned $6 an hour plus tips. So the 20% tip was essential to earn a living in a city where the minimum wage is $15 an hour.

A barista who uses the Square contactless payment system says it can be awkward to tip for a coffee. The tip option appears automatically, which he says puts pressure on customers. He frequently hits the “jump” button and waives tips. There are also transaction fees on these systems, so under the new law this cannot be deducted as a percentage of money left as a tip.

With all these gray areas, would we be better off ditching the failover system altogether? In Japan, not only is there a no-tipping culture, but it’s considered rude. In New York, it was tested by restaurateur Danny Meyer, who phased in a no-tipping policy in 2015, returning to the old system in 2020; and it is touted in some European restaurants.

Bristol’s Ethicurean announced earlier this year that it was stopping all tipping. Instead, they raise their prices to cover a living wage for all of their staff, who work up to 46 hours a week. It’s a bold move and, according to Pearce, difficult to implement here, particularly in rural Ireland where margins are tighter and price sensitivity is an issue.

So, with a variable rate tipping culture, 10-20%, what is the best approach to take? 10% is the absolute minimum and 12.5% ​​is the accepted standard. Don’t hesitate to be generous. This will all go to the staff, and if you leave it in cash, great.


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