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Pattie Lovett-Reid

Chief Financial Commentator, CTV


Is there a new normal when it comes to tipping in a post-pandemic world? 

I believe there is but this doesn't mean you have to blow the bank. 

Tipping is no longer simply about etiquette. Throughout the pandemic, service workers in many industries including the restaurant industry have been hit hard and were often the first recipients of government assisted programs. This definitely brought a stark awareness to the lower wages of those forced to work outside the home often at minimum wage. 

Takeout became a focal point as Canadians tried to support local restaurants in an effort to prevent permanent closures. But clearly not all benefited. It has long been recognized that tips are an integral part of the industry and make or break for some financially.

Is it the new norm to tip for takeout?

Maybe. As the hospitality industry reopens across the country, there is an awareness that life in the service business is different now. After a year that has wreck havoc on so many businesses forcing new protocols to be put into place for areas like cleanliness and limited occupancy, supply chain disruptions and cost increases, you have to wonder if it is rude simply not to tip more or as some believe, it isn't their responsibility to prop up the industry?

Before you think about what side you weigh in on, I think it is important to think about why you tip in the first place - is it an expectation, based on service or maybe you just don't tip at all?

Regardless of the motivation, it still may come down to your budget. Like all expenses, tipping should be included in some form in your discretionary spending. You may want to do more but that doesn't mean you can afford to do more. You need to know your numbers. 

So what is the norm - most experts suggest a range of 15 to 20 per cent or more for outstanding service. However, if you are uncertain it is OK to ask what are people normally tipping? 

On a personal note, I believe in tipping and the better the service, the better the tip. I like the element of surprise or gratitude that accompanies it. In a small way I like to think of it as a way of giving back. I get it. Not every thinks like this and feels workers should be paid more to begin with to take the onus off them. 

I guess for some that is fair but I would argue if you can afford to partake in the service then don't be cheap. As the saying goes "karma has a funny way of making you deal with what you make others go through."

This doesn't mean you have to make up for the last year, you don't have to blow the bank and you don't have to tip on the after-tax amount.  

However, unless your server is rude, insulting or absent, do the right thing and leave a tip – a generous one, if you can afford it and the service warrants it. You will likely make their day.