The only reason you should ever tip in Australia

When it comes to tipping culture, we need to back to basics.


Tipping is totally voluntary in Australia — as it should be — and is usually done to show appreciation for good service. That's really what tipping should be for: Good. Service.

But what do you do when faced with a restaurant's payment device asking if you'd like to include a tip, when the service wasn't exactly worth rewarding?

These days we're even asked to tip when ordering via QR code, which is a sore point for some Aussies whose budgets are already stretched. It's not that we're getting all cheap and unscrupulous, we're just being real about when we'll add a gratuity: when it's deserved.

Restaurant customer scanning menu QR code; Inset: Payment screen with tip options.
Being asked for a tip by a machine that has replaced waitstaff is taking things a bit far. Source: Getty

We're not the US

Australian hospitality staff – while not the most highly paid workers in the country – are actually on relatively good rates, starting at around $21 per hour, unlike their counterparts in the US where minimum wage is an appalling $7.25 an hour. Tipping is therefore expected in the States, and most of the time, the good service you get there will leave you wanting to add a healthy bonus on top of the sales tax included in your bill.

Meanwhile, the expectation to tip in Australia is getting greater and greater, even if the service you receive is absolutely crap. I'm more than happy to tip someone who has done their hospo job well, but does someone really need tipping if they can barely acknowledge you, rolls their eyes at your order, or carelessly dumps your meal in front of you?

Tipping point

Don't get me wrong, I'm all for tip jars in cafes and pubs, and even having the option to tip on food delivery and ride share apps. Nearly everyone is doing it pretty tough these days, so of course, if the service you receive deserves a tip, absolutely, go forth and do it. But don't for a second think it's mandatory in Australia. Sure, it's a heartwarming thing to do, if you can afford it, but while our hospitality industry remains tightly regulated, someone else's weekly earnings aren't dependent on your goodwill.

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