Tipping culture in Australia

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With Uber adding a ‘tip your driver’ function to its apps and plenty of anecdotes about the perceived expectation of tips in restaurants, Is Australia following the US in adopting or expanding its approach to tipping for service?

Let me know your thoughts in the comments below.


I hope not.

Tipping in the US has a very different purpose to tipping in Australia. In the US, service industries pay employees very low wages and tipping is used to supplement this income so that the worker earn a fair income.

In Australia, Commonwealth and State legislation ensure that all employers pay their employees a fair minimum wage. Any tips in Australia are therefore seen as a bonus to the employee…or more often than not, to increase the profits of the employer as many employees don’t see the tips which may have been paid at the point of sale by the customer.

Maybe Uber recognises that the rates it pays drivers in Australia are well below that which would be considered a fair minimum wage in Australia, when running costs of the vehicle are considered, and wants to implement tipping to improve the income their drivers received. Maybe Uber should follow Australia legislation and ensure its drivers are paid at least the minimum wage under Fair Work Australia rather than relying a US type tipping system.


But it is becoming more prevalent. Instead of our minimum wage differences many service employees work only a few casual hours per week with no guarantee of any hours, often at each of multiple jobs. They can struggle as a result.

Citing minimum wages is a furphy sometimes becuase even if you get paid $50/hr but only work an hour a week, is that liveable?

Sad but true.

Bottom line is the minimum wage concept works a treat when workers have secure full time work. I suggest it is a furphy when workers are casualised and work ‘gig’ jobs.


Please note that ‘tip’ was below subtotal on the old Bankcard and other credit card dockets ever since they were printed.

I used to run restaurants back in the '70s, and based on that and as a customer tips are like awards: you don’t give them for just doing your job. When we get amazing service I give a tip. If it is just run of the mill service - they get nothing.

I also dislike it when the Australia Day awards are announced and people get an award just for doing their job. That is what they are paid to do. Volunteers are a completely different kettle of fish and deserve awards.

This varied from manager/employer to manager/employer. Some work places would give all tips earned to the appropriate staff member, others shared out the tips equally of proportionally based on seniority or sales or number of customers they had etc. Some workplaces used to just put the tips into the till as @phb said.

The minimum wage and the various social security payments are there to allow people to not only survive, but prosper (OK I accept that the prosper part is a bit utopian). The Government SHOULD be paying these people enough social security so they are all above the poverty line even if they can only work one hour a week. If you feel you want to give money to someone to help them along, that is your choice, but that is not what tipping should be for.

I think that now days with all the American movies, TV programs, etc we are being Americanised. People see tipping on the shows and don’t understand the cultural differences or just want to emulate someone they have seen on the screen. Tipping for everything is American. Tipping only for amazing service above and beyond the standard is, to me, acceptable in Australia.


Like so much of market economics, Australia’s labour market has failed. Time to implement something like Universal Basic Income and/or a Job Guarantee? Without adequate income, consumers can’t consume.


Another view is why should taxpayers support those workers who get insufficient income because of employer practices even though they are more than willing to work but the jobs are casual gigs.

I am not proposing tipping should make up the difference by any means, and I think tipping, especially as done by Americans, is an appalling custom. But then why should taxpayers step in when the problem is pervasive in some industries? It is time to have a hard look at society from a macro view where a ‘money man’ accumulates untold wealth, many workers would not get buy without taxpayer help, but government believes it is all about tax cuts. :roll_eyes:


I tip taxis, my hairdresser, restaurants.
I don’t think it’s really expected, just do it to show appreciation and to be nice. Some Coffee Lounges have a tip jar on the counter but if I take my own food to the table I don’t tip.
Hope we are not following the U. S. , there a tax is added to your bill at the cash register and also some time gratuities are added, and a suggested tip of around 20% is shown at the bottom of your receipt! Ended up paying $US 43.69 for just 2 small Pizzas in Little Italy, N Y, plus a generous tip, as the ‘Gratuity ‘ had escaped my attention!


I wouldn’t necessarily say failed, we are one of the better performing OECD countries and usally rank in the top few countries for standard/quality of living. The downside is cost of living is increasing, which may be also due to our societal and economic successes.

While the UBW is a ‘upotian’ solution, it harks from communism and is possibly not best placed in a free market, democratic society. Tipping is frowned upon in communism, but is accepted if expected from foreigners (like in China, Vietnam, Cuba)


Are we?

Does it?

Is that what we have?

As Keynes wrote to Hayek, it depends on where the line is drawn:

You agree that the line has to be drawn somewhere [between free-enterprise and planning], and that the logical extreme is not possible. But you give us no guidance whatever as to where to draw it.

No, absolutely not ‘by default’.

If I have a particularly good experience with a restaurant, then I might but only if the staff confirm tipping is distributed appropriately.

I’ve never had a taxi ride where a tip was justified - I figure in most cases they are lucky we all survived and they don’t have a culpable driving charge against them :rofl::rofl::rofl:


At my place of work I don’t get tips. When people offer I simply suggest they put it to whatever charity campaign we’re running at the time.


Rather than focusing on tipping culture words such as communism, socialism, capitalism, whatever tend to inflame and detract from the discussion.

I had a reliie from the US visit and explained to him we generally don’t tip. He got his back up big time because ‘everyone should be trying to lift up those people’ who did good work. When the discussion quieted down and he realised our minimum wages meant those he was ‘lifting up’ made more than he did as a skilled tradie back home, he started having a think about here and there and why wages are held to the minimum possible in the name of creating wealth (for the owners). Oh, did I touch on ideology? Sorry.


@meltam ‘…tips are like awards: you don’t give them for just doing your job. When we get amazing service I give a tip. If it is just run of the mill service - they get nothing…Tipping for everything is American. Tipping only for amazing service above and beyond the standard is, to me, acceptable in Australia.’

Spot on!

I’ve not noticed one iota of improved service since this tipping BS started to creep in, so what’s it for exactly? Places are just trying to create an expectation in the hope we’ll feel compelled. Don’t get taken.

The US has their system, we have ours, neither is perfect but expecting a tip here for run of the mill service is just an attempt to exploit customers. Let establishment owners provide bonuses to staff if they feel the service they provide generates return business.


Because Australia traditionally supports its people. Of course, the way to fund support made necessary by employer freeloading is to tax the freeloaders.

Expecting employers to reward performance? Next, you’ll be saying they should pay just and equitable wages. The very idea! :wink:


The abbreviated text you selected from my post, with your response, suggests I am not into social support, which is not the case. It was in response to commentators who are not into tipping because government provides support for those with sufficiently low incomes. Because government steps in should not be one of the reasons.

I find tipping distasteful for many reasons. A top one is it makes a worker subservient to the customer rather than just serving the customer and puts the customer in a position of superiority by his/her discretion in controlling / affecting the service worker’s income. When in the US I find it irritating most every restaurant server wants to act like my new BFF in the expectation of at least 15-18%, going for the increasingly common expectation of 22%. They still expect 15% for very ordinary service. It is also common diners in the US take out a bad meal on the server who otherwise did their best. Get a haircut? Add at least $2 for a tip, more in many places. Not counting the doorman, bell hop, cabbie, and on it goes. How about this one? How great is that? :roll_eyes:

The ‘American system’ has allowed and enabled transferring responsibility for paying workers from employer obligation to customer discretion. The IRS (eg ATO) also deem how much tip income service workers receive to be taxed if they did not report ‘enough’.

American tourists, expats, movies, and the resultant American cultural imperialism have spread tipping as a commonplace expectation regardless of local wage or employment norms.


Couldn’t agree more.

In Australia tips are classed as income, must be declared and taxed accordingly.

Yes, and it impacts on many non-US tourists as the locals in the overseas countries expect other anglo-saxon looking individuals to also tip as well. It creates an expection which may not be fulfilled.

I wonder if Uber, being a US company, is doing the same? Past history indicates they take little regard of local laws/regulations in relation to the carrying out of their activities, and expect these laws/regulations to change to suit their own needs.

As they say, in Rome do as the Romans do.


That is the default case in the US also, but the IRS also expects that service workers get a certain level of tips and ‘accused’ workers of not reporting or under reporting them. Their ‘solution’ - If they do not report at least the expected amount the IRS adds what they think the worker got toward the tax bill. If the worker actually got less in tips, too bad for them, they pay the tax.


Indeed if you don’t pay the 15-20% in teh USA the server has to out of their already low wage (so they end up subsidising your meal/drink). Its basically like if you didn’t pay the GST here etc.

On the other side I do understand why some systems/P.O.S. (not so much the uber side) are now providing more in your face prompts to tip (at least in hospitality). After the chip and pin was introduced tipping vanished along with the notes and spare change. I don’t imagine paywave has improved the situation either. When is the last time you heard someone say keep the the change (or shrapnel) etc?


I hope not, we can only just afford the meal, if we have to tip as well, we’ll find somewhere else to go or stay home, waiter’s are on a better wage here than in america.


Tipping should be discouraged and squashed. As a consumer I don’t want to be determining how much extra I should be paying someone for a service or expecting better service because of a tip. Feedback on service is already available via Social media… The Cashless society will hopefully get rid of it.
Also as an ex Employer, our staff did not rely on tips or bribes to do their work to a high standard. They were paid well, and if Company had a good year they all got a bonus, and we all paid our taxes too!
There is a more serious problem within the fruit & vegetable picking industry which don’t get tips!