During Covid-19 How Much Are You Tipping?

The Lempert Report
January 25, 2021

The president and co-founder of One Fair Wage, reports that tipping has decreased amid the pandemic because sales are down overall.

Over the past year or so, many articles and news reports have proclaimed just how important supermarket and restaurant workers are – proclaiming them as essential workers. As we have also seen many of these workers are collecting wages (if they are still on the job) far lower than we think – especially those that are in the GIG workforce.

The nonprofit One Fair Wage is calling for legislation in all 50 states mandating that tipped workers get paid full minimum wage before tips. But so far, only seven states — Alaska, California, Minnesota, Montana, Nevada, Oregon and Washington — require a fair wage. The other 43 states allow tipped workers to be paid a subminimum wage, which federal law sets at $2.13 per hour. (For comparison, the federal minimum wage for untipped workers is $7.25 per hour.)

According to a One Fair Wage report published in November, 83% of restaurant workers surveyed said they’ve seen their tips decline since the pandemic began. Forty percent said they’ve experienced an increase in sexual harassment, including male customers making lewd remarks to female workers like, “Take off your mask so I know how much to tip you,” which is also the title of the report.

Nearly half of workers said that at least one person in their restaurant got COVID-19 and 90% said their employers don’t follow all of the coronavirus safety protocols. And it gets worse - restaurant workers typically make so little, 60% of tipped workers said they didn’t even qualify for unemployment benefits.

The president and co-founder of One Fair Wage, reports that tipping has decreased amid the pandemic because sales are down overall; people tip less for takeout, delivery and outdoor dining.

“The other reason tips are down is because the clientele has changed,” Saru Jayaraman, the co-founder and director of One Fair Wage wrote in Huff Post. “People who are concerned about COVID might’ve been regulars at restaurants and are not eating out as much. People who are eating out now are not as concerned about COVID, and they are more aggressive when asked to put on masks and engage in social distancing. So ... workers are being asked to do way more for a much more hostile population and getting paid way less.”

The bottom line for customers: if you can afford it, tip restaurant workers and gig workers their fair share, because their livelihoods depend on it; and if they get disgruntled and quit – guess what – you’ll have to do your own shopping and take out pick up.