Union calls to make cash tips compulsory in France

The amount servers can expect in cash tips has apparently dropped considerably

Giving cash tips in restaurants and cafés in France could become mandatory, after calls from a hospitality industry union.

In contrast to the United States, where giving substantial tips is the norm; and the UK, where cash tips are often given by individual customers (on top of a 12% optional service charge added to the bill), France does not have a systematic custom of giving individual cash tips to hospitality staff.

Since 1987, 15% of any hospitality bill in France is automatically given to the wait staff, so service is technically included already, with any extra tips given on top in cash, should customers wish.

But according to the Union of hospitality industries and businesses (Union des métiers et des industries de l’hôtellerie (Umih)), the amount servers can expect in cash tips has dramatically dropped.

A waitress who has worked in the same café in the South of France for 28 years said in an interview with French news channel TF1 that she used to get as much as “a quarter of her salary from tips”, but the amount given had significantly dropped in recent years.

“It’s finished, it’s too difficult [these days],” she said.

Speaking on behalf of the Umih, which is calling for a review on whether to make tips mandatory, union vice president Hervé Becam said: “The difficult thing is to find the right balance between obligation, which would effectively force an increase in prices; and keeping it voluntary, which would allow the client and customer to show their satisfaction for a benefit they have received.”

Speaking to TF1, one customer disagreed with the idea of making cash tips compulsory, saying: “Making it obligatory will mean that eventually, the staff will make less effort”.

Another said: “We do not have the same system as the United States. I think we should stay as we are, as it works well as it is [today].”


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