Waitress tip

One of New York’s highest-regarded restaurant chains made waves last October when it announced that it would be eliminating tipping in its establishments. And for a country where tipping often makes up for low wages, this was big news. Now, it seems similar policies could be heading the way of UK restaurants.

A consultation on tipping has been launched by the Business Secretary, Sajid Javid, amid concerns about transparency on behalf of restaurateurs when it comes to the inclusion of service charges on customer bills. The addition of ‘default’ tips has become common practice, with many restaurants automatically adding 10-15% onto the cost of a meal. The ethics of this approach have long been questioned by diners and, if you’re a restaurateur, you’ll know if can often result in an uncomfortable conversation when bills are settled.

The consultation is not an immediate cause for panic; there are no concrete signs that new tipping rules will be introduced in the UK. Such news is a timely reminder, however, that restaurateurs should implement fair tipping rules in order to keep both staff and customers happy.

In this post, we’ve got 5 tips for creating a fair tipping policy in your restaurant.

1. Don’t include service charges

Let’s start here, because it is by far the simplest to implement. If you’re running a great restaurant, most of your guests will want to pay your staff a tip, so bank on the fact that it’ll happen. It’s common courtesy, and you’ll be well aware that non-tippers are few and far between.

2. Make it clear that service charges aren’t included

Such is the prevalence of automated service charging in restaurants that many diners simply assume they’re present even when they’re not. If you decide not to include service charges, make it crystal clear on the bill with a note in the header.

3. Create an open tipping policy

It’s worth reminding ourselves why tips exist. They’re intended to say ‘thank you for your great service’ to the waiting staff. They’re not an assumption that your staff aren’t paid enough, so create an open tipping policy by encouraging your team to talk about their tips with their colleagues. It creates healthy competition and removes any feeling of unfairness.

4. Ensure staff receive all tips

With contactless cards and payment-enabled smartphones flooding the market, the process of keeping track of tips by staff member is growing increasingly difficult. All cash tips should go to the relevant waiting staff, but it’s important you do the same for credit card payments. It’ll take a little more work, but ensure accurate records are kept of tip allocations and you’ll have a happy waiting team.

5. Encourage staff to state tipping rules

It’s common for diners to quiz waiting staff on the restaurant’s tipping rules. “Are you going to be able to keep all of this tip?” they may ask. A vague, uncomfortable answer won’t do your restaurant any good, so empower your staff to answer such questions with your tipping policy which is, of course, that they will receive every penny!


If new legislation is introduced to banish the inclusion of restaurant service charges, it won’t be the end of the world for restaurateurs. On the contrary, it may well take us back to a time when tipping was exactly what it should be – simple, fair and at the discretion of the diner. Follow the tips above (excuse the pun) and you’ll implement a tipping policy which keeps both your staff and guests happy.

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