Embrace the Culture of Giving Tips to Waiters


Giving tips to waiters, waitresses isn’t just about being nice to someone but a way of showing appreciation.

If a waiter/waitress gives you a top class service, it is appropriate for you to give him/her a tip.

Tips are very important especially in some countries like Uganda where most waiters earn peanuts and can’t even afford to cater for half of their home bills. Most of them spend their salaries on transport (taxis and boda bodas) and debts yet they work for 12 or more hours.

The tip is for them having served you food, keeping your glass full and your table cleared of dirty dishes, and make sure you’re taken care of.

If you do not leave tips, then you are basically forcing them to work for next to nothing. Tips give them incentive to keep you, the customer happy.

Do you know most of these waiters and waitresses spend more of their time befriending customers, serving and making them laugh. That’s what they call customer care.

Although they get a salary at end of the week or month, they are also doing you a service. They work so hard, waiting on you, making sure your food it hot and served promptly; checking to see if everything is okay, if you are satisfied, getting you extra food or water. With all that, at least they deserve a nice tip. This can be between 10% – 20% of the bill.

The customary tip can be a specific range of monetary amounts or a given percentage of the bill.

However, in Uganda, the culture of tipping might never be fully adopted because many people are biased about it and very few people can manage to tip waiters.

When you suggest it to someone to tip a waiter, he/she will ask, “What for? I have already bought food from here what else is more important than that?”

Some instead of getting good tips at end of the day, they get bad tips or harsh notes.

However, it should be noted that not every waiter or waitress deserves a tip. Pay a tip for a waitress who is polite and treat customers like actual customers, but not some who are rude, lazy, careless or with “attitude.”

Although tipping and the amount are a matter of social custom and social practices vary between countries and settings.

In some circumstances, such as with United States government workers, receiving of tips is illegal.

In some locations tipping is discouraged and considered insulting like China and in some locations tipping is expected from customers.

In Hong Kong, tipping is not expected in budget restaurants, in India, it is traditionally not an obligation on the customer, although the practice is now more widespread than before. As for the Japanese people, they are uncomfortable with being tipped, and are likely to be confused, amused or possibly even offended if tipped.

In Israel, tipping in restaurants and bars is expected, usually 15%-20% service charge, in United Kingdom, tips of 10% are common in restaurants, but not compulsory.

According to Elizabeth Williams, author of “When the IRS came to dinner”, in the US, the Congress succeeded in redefining tips.  “Tips are no longer gifts for service.  Now they are treated as supplemental pay, subject to full taxation like any other earned wage,” she said.

The concept that a server really has much control over their tips is an illusion.  Employers are allowed to use tips to subsidize the wages of other employees,  pay a  reduced wage to servers and even cover the cost of doing business by deducting a percentage  from a servers credit card tips for processing fees.

In 1966, the Congress added restaurant tipped employees to the FLSA (Fair Labor Standards Act) and created the concept of the “Tip Credit”.  The Tip credit allows employers  in most states to meet their main wage obligation by having a certain amount of tips count toward the applicable minimum wage. It means servers receive a special, sub-minimum wage that is lower than the full applicable minimum wage.

A tip can also be referred to as Gratuity.  “A gratuity is a sum of money customarily tendered to certain service sector workers for a service performed or anticipated,” according to Wikipedia.

An academic paper by Steven Holland calls tipping “…an effective mechanism for risk sharing and welfare improvement” which reduces the risk faced by a service customer, because the customer can decide whether or not to tip.


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