Tipping: companies get their arm twisted

The fashion for tips is even more widespread than I could have imagined when writing my first text on this thorny subject which arouses as much debate as annoyance.

Posted at 7:30 a.m.

“Even my mechanic entered the tip at his payment terminal. During an oil change last week, I was surprised to find that I now also had to go through the “15, 18 or 20%” tip stage. It has no end, ”wrote me Jean-Pierre, who I guess exasperated.

Chloe went through the same thing when it came time to pay… a plumber.

“He hands me an Interac terminal to pay the bill for the first day of work. A tidy $2800. The famous tip trio was displayed. I was appalled! Of course, I refused to tip a worker for whom I was charged $100 an hour. This is indecency! “You have to have the front, all the same.

Customers of a florist in the Ahuntsic district, in Montreal, are also offered to leave a tip, laments Pierre.

Many of you would like this often incoherent spread to stop. Will we ever have to tip at McDonald’s, at the Rona garden center and at the grocery store, where, there too, we are served take-out meals? Why not follow the example of other countries where tips are included in the price?

These are very legitimate questions, which affect our portfolio as much as our values. Hence the debates on the issue. But no one has answers. One thing is certain, the shortage of labor is causing all sorts of unexpected phenomena, including the multiplication of requests for tips from customers.

Give in to employee pressure

The president and co-founder of the Mamie Clafoutis bakeries, Nicolas Delourmel, is very well placed to testify to this. He was hounded by his employees for a year, he told me. “I was not for that and I held my end. But I had too much pressure from the employees. I had no choice but to set this up lately. Otherwise, we would lose our staff. »


The president and co-founder of Mamie Clafoutis bakeries, Nicolas Delourmel, finds that the notion of tipping in Quebec is now distorted.

According to the entrepreneur, “it’s not right” that tips are becoming commonplace, especially at a time when retail prices are skyrocketing. He therefore wanted the “zero tip” option to be as clearly indicated on the payment terminals as the “% and $” options. “I absolutely wanted customers to see the zero, otherwise they would feel cheap! Because it puts pressure. »

This compromise has kept employees happy, while providing an option for customers who no longer carry change. In fact, some had contacted head office to express their desire to be able to tip electronically.

But this establishment in the nine branches of Mamie Clafoutis has not only made people happy.

It created a commotion that Nicolas Delourmel had not anticipated.

In the beginning, clerks of 14 or 15 earned almost twice as much as bakers who have 30 years of experience and get up at midnight. It created another problem. It was hectic.

Nicolas Delourmel, president and co-founder of Mamie Clafoutis bakeries

The employees who do the service have therefore agreed to give 30% of the tips to the team that makes the croissants and the breads.

At St-Hubert too, management ended up accepting during the pandemic that take-out and drive-through clerks receive tips to facilitate the recruitment and retention of staff.


Richard Scofield, President and CEO of Rôtisseries St-Hubert

“We have no choice, otherwise people will work elsewhere”, says the president and CEO, Richard Scofield, specifying that the internal policy is “8% – 10% – 12%, and no solicitation “. These employees “generally” share their tips with the kitchen team, which also makes kitchen jobs more attractive. On the other hand, those who serve at the tables do not share.

The problem is that the Labor Standards Act prohibits employers from imposing the sharing of tips. The attractiveness of jobs behind the stoves therefore depends in part on the people who do the service. The Association Restauration Québec hopes for a modernization of the law.

What status and what salary?

Many of you have asked me how much all these clerks who now have access to tips earn. Are they really tip employees? If you knew, the decision to add 15% to the bill would be easier, you wrote to me.

Verification made, the employees at the checkouts are not – with some exceptions – tip employees.

Since 1er May, the minimum wage in Quebec is $14.25, and $11.40 for employees receiving tips. However, it is very difficult, if not impossible, to hire at these rates which are the minimums allowed, and not standards, say the restaurateurs. In short, the clerks who serve you generally earn more than $14.25 per hour.

This does not mean, as some believe, that the tips they receive are not taxable. All Quebecers are required to report tips received, even those in cash, to the tax authorities.

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