my coworkers are terrible tippers, slackers are ruining remote work for the rest of us, and more

It’s five answers to five questions. Here we go…

1. My coworkers are terrible tippers

My office has recently transitioned to a system that allows employees to order lunch with a company stipend of $20. Unfortunately, some of my coworkers will spend almost every cent they have on food and tip as little as 75 cents. As the receptionist, it’s my job to receive deliveries, and I feel terrible getting orders that are only tipping 5%.

I’ve spoken to our COO, who set the price limit, asking that we put in a 10% automated tip, but she says that she does not think the company should dictate how we spend our stipend. I feel it’s unethical to tip so much lower than the accepted standard, and it has upset me to be tacitly endorsing it. Is this just something I should let go? Do I have any additional recourse?

You could send out a reminder that people should be tipping at least a few dollars on each delivery order (and perhaps mentioning that if your office becomes known for miserly tips, it will impact the service you all get), but beyond that, if the COO isn’t willing to require it, there’s probably not much else you can do, unfortunately. Your coworkers are being kind of terrible in this regard though.

2. Slacker coworkers may ruin remote work for the rest of us

I work at a large law firm that allows telecommuting for attorneys and paralegals (billers), but there is currently no telecommuting policy for any staff. Due to a recent move and a three-hour increase in commuting time (it didn’t look so bad on paper), I’ve been lobbying management to work from home for a couple of scheduled days a week. The position is ideal since 90-95% of my work requires me to be sitting in front of a computer anyway.

My direct manager and the office manager are both fine with the idea because I’m considered a “model” worker and have years of solid performance on record. The sticking point, however, boils down to the question, “What if a ‘mediocre’ worker in the same department asks to telecommute? What criteria can we point to in order to refuse them without creating friction in the office?”

I suppose it’s considered bad form to tell someone they’re a goof-off and can’t be trusted. Understandable. Finding arguments to allow someone to telecommute is easy, but reasons for refusing someone that particular perk (without the risk of being considered “mean”) seem harder to come up with.

It’s not really bad form to tell someone they’re a goof-off and can’t be trusted if that’s the case. I mean, you wouldn’t say it exactly like that, but your managers actually aren’t doing their jobs if they think that about a staff member but haven’t told the person.

Ideally, managers in your office should be comfortable saying, “I’d want to see sustained higher performance from you before considering a remote work arrangement.” Or, “Given the areas we’ve talked about you needing to improve in, I don’t think is the right time to have you work from home.” Or, “I’m willing to approve remote work for people with a long track record of outstanding performance, but I don’t think you’re there yet. I’d want to see you improve in XYZ first.” Managers should exercise that kind of judgment and should be transparent with people about it.

But if they want something more policy-like to point to, they could always decide that to be eligible for remote work, you have to have been with the company X amount of time and earned outstanding ratings on your last performance review, or something like that. I don’t prefer doing it that way because it takes away some independent judgment from managers and potentially limits them in ways that aren’t ideal, but if they really want objective criteria, that’s where I’d point them.

3. What to say in response to “I’m sorry” from employees

I’m in a supervisory position, managing student employees at an office on a college campus. I think my question applies to just about anyone, however.

When the student employees are late to work without notice, or fail to show up for a shift, most of the time they do apologize for their lapse in responsibility with a simple, “Sorry I’m late.” My problem is, I struggle with how to succinctly respond when the infraction doesn’t warrant a formal sit-down. If someone is ten minutes late to their shift, and they haven’t been late before, when they come in and say, “I’m sorry I’m late,” I don’t want to say, “It’s okay,” because it’s not really okay — they do need to be on time. But I don’t want to lecture them on their first or even second minor infraction: “I accept your apology, but please bear in mind that timekeeping is an important aspect of your job.”

As in the rest of life, when someone says “I’m sorry,” and it’s not “okay” but you want to convey that you recognize that they recognize they messed up, what’s the best thing to say? “Thank you for apologizing”? “I accept your apology”? Both seem kind of stilted to me.

With something like being 10 minutes late, I’m a fan of “Everything okay?” That signals that the lateness is noticed and it’s enough of a thing that you’re expressing concern, but without making it a Big Serious Conversation over 10 minutes. Of course, if it happens multiple times, then it actually is a more serious conversation (assuming precise punctuality really matters in their jobs — if it doesn’t, you should let it go because 10 minutes isn’t a big deal unless there’s a specific reason it’s a big deal). That serious conversation would be something like: “I’ve noticed you’ve been coming in late for your shifts. I actually need you to be here exactly on time because of ___. Can you do that going forward?”

But failing to show up for a shift altogether is a different thing. That shouldn’t be glossed over with an apology. You should treat that as a real infraction.

4. Filling out job applications for someone else

My boyfriend has a disability that makes it difficult for him to handwrite for any extended period of time. He can do it, but it can cause him pain or make it difficult to use his hands for some time afterward. He works in IT, so very rarely ever has to handwrite anything extensive.

He’s been job searching lately and a few places require applications to be filled out by hand. Just like I would normally do medical or other paperwork for him, I’ve been filling them out for him. I have pretty “girly” handwriting and if they do have him sign or date anything, they’ll likely notice the handwriting is different.

Is it really a bad idea for me to fill these out for him? If not for his disability, I wouldn’t, but I still don’t want him to look bad or lazy to employers. What are your thoughts?

Are they definitely requiring that these be filled out by hand? If it’s just the presence of a paper application that’s making you think that, it’s actually possible that the’d be fine with him typing his answers. (Assuming people don’t have typewriters anymore, he’d first need to scan it to get an electronic copy.)

But if they’re specifically saying “fill this out by hand” (which is weird), I’m worried that they care about it for some reason … in which case it’s not ideal to have it filled out by someone who’s obviously not him since they’ll wonder who filled it out and why. However, it’s not the kind of thing where reasonable employers would toss the application in outrage, and if they ask about it, he can explain that he has a disability that makes it painful to write by hand for any extended period.

5. Working for a company with no internet presence

I just made a move from a major metropolitan area to a small rural one. Everything about my job search has been really different (I’m in the mental health field) and as a result I’ve made many mistakes on the way. I had a really good interview with a company that I liked but there was one strange thing about them – – they don’t have a website and they have a very small internet presence. In this field this is highly unusual, and it’s also unusual for this area. It’s a busy clinic and the person I met with said they’ve never needed a website to get clients. My question is: I will likely be at this job for a few years and then probably move on to something else (hopefully back in said large metropolitan area). Will it hurt my job prospects later if I work somewhere with no internet presence?

Nah, probably not. Employers aren’t usually looking up candidates’ past companies online. As long as you have references they can reach, you should be fine. (If you ever needed to prove their existence, you could presumably do so through things like business cards, brochures, an advertisement, a reference in a local “best of” list, or so forth. It’s very, very unlikely you’ll need to use that stuff, but it won’t hurt to have it on hand.) Plus, you’ll be able to explain why they don’t have an internet presence, which is probably that they’ve built their business through word of mouth and referrals.

{ 514 comments… read them below }

  1. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock*

    OP#4, yes to everything Alison said, but I think there’s also a good basis for reframing your assistance as an accommodation for his disability. Normally I wouldn’t encourage a partner to handwrite job applications for their SO. But it sounds like he’s already asked for your assistance and is responsible for the substantive information on the application (i.e., you’re essentially operating as a scrivener), which is the kind of accommodation he might have sought or paid someone else to do, anyway. In this limited context, I think your support is reasonable and makes a lot of sense. Any suspicions about it not being his handwriting would be really odd on the employer’s part.

    1. Mimi the strange*

      Wouldn’t it also make sense for him to type up the answers and when submitting it advise them that he has difficulty writing by hand for long periods of time.

      Being able to submit a typed copy could also be considered as a reasonable accomodation. Rather than someone else wrote this for me, it would be I wrote this in a way that was disability friendly. I know the OP isn’t likely changing anything but people might think or worry about it.

    2. HannahS*

      Totally agree. You’re acting as his scribe, which some people get paid to do–I was offered a scribe at university, when I was having trouble with my hands.

      If he’s concerned that the differences in your handwriting on an application are screamingly obvious and scanning it isn’t an option, could he copy your handwriting a bit for writing the date? Like if you write cute round letters, he can try to write cute round numbers instead of, say, big scrawly ones? It might make him feel like there’s nothing on the page to catch anyone’s eye.

      If they bring it up because he’s writing in front of them in an interview and they remember that his handwriting looked different on the initial application, he can always say, “I’d hurt my hand that day, so I had to dictate it to someone.” I wouldn’t disclose any disability until after the offer, since I’d worry that they’d interpret “trouble with hands” as “sometimes can’t use a computer”

      1. Liane*

        That was part of my college work-study job, although I primarily I recorded textbooks and other reading assignments.

    3. Silja*

      I am not sure where you are located, but I know a couple of European countries that regularly do handwriting analysis on applications (or did when I worked there, some dozen years ago), so if you continue to write for your boyfriend, do make that clear (in a cover letter perhaps?).

      1. The Cosmic Avenger*

        Do they also do phrenology on final candidates? Yeesh!

        OP#4, has your boyfriend tried DocHub? I only found out about it because it’s a suggested service by Google Docs, but I’m finding it often more helpful and easier to use than Adobe Acrobat Pro (which has a great forms module). I just took a PNG of a form off the web, and it does a great job of filling in scanned images, not just PDFs or Word docs. It has a checkbox tool, and if he uploads a signature once, it can fill that in for him, too.

        And I agree that unless a form specifies that it must be handwritten, if anything it might look good to fill it in by computer, especially if he’s applying for IT jobs.

        Incidentally, he’s probably thought of these already, but I have to ask: has he tried adaptive devices? There are pen grips/writing aids slightly bigger than baseballs, or shaped like a mouse, that might help him to write if he needs to at work. I normally would assume that he would have researched these already, but I wouldn’t know about them if it hadn’t been part of my job for a while.

        1. Specialk9*

          Yeah, I was going to suggest converting a form into typeable, but my way is fairly manual (lotsa text boxes), or requires a $150 PDF converter. So thanks for the DocHub recommendation!

          1. The Cosmic Avenger*

            I’ve been really impressed by it, and as I said, I’ve had a full license for Adobe Livecycle (now Experience Manager Forms) for work. I have no motor control/grip issues, I just loathe hand-writing things, so I’ve been using it to fill out the dozens of forms that I’ve had to deal with regarding my child’s school and camp, and my father’s death last year. SO many forms. I even paid for DocHub Pro for a month for the free faxing while dealing with the estate, and then went back to the free version afterwards. (The free version lets you pay a la carte for faxing.) Once you upload a signature image (which you can resize as needed), you can do everything online….except notarize documents!

            1. NotAnotherManager!*

              Children require SO. MANY. FORMS. I routinely use Acrobat Pro to convert pretty much everything (HR makes fun of me because I convert their stuff to fillables as well – but I notice that they keep/use my fillable PDFs once I convert them :) because my handwriting has declined and my hand gets cramped and tired more easily.

              I will give DocHub a whirl – I have access to Acrobat Pro through work, but I prefer not to use my work computer for personal stuff.

        2. K, Esq.*

          A lot of times adaptive devices don’t help. I have a tendon that slips over the knuckle on my right hand, and writing by hand for more than about a paragraph means that the nerve on my ring finger goes numb, then the numbness spreads. I was in agony in college writing midterms and finals. I got a laptop accommodation my senior year and then for law school when they finally got software that blocked other programs during testing. Luckily I can type most things now, but a job application all at once would still hurt. If the handwriting is a big problem and there’s time, maybe he could spread filling it out over a few days.

      2. The Strand*

        Personality analysis. And yes, it does happen. It happened to one of my colleagues while she was working in France.

          1. Oryx*

            I’ve had it happen here in the US. Per the job listing, I had to handwrite my cover letter. I was interviewed and I asked about that and they said it was for handwriting analysis.

            1. Tongue Cluckin' Grammarian*

              I have multiple different hand-writings depending on mood/speed of writing/space I’m writing in/etc. It literally can look like totally different people wrote things that were in my hand. I would horrified to learn somebody thought handwriting analysis was an effective person-analysis tool!

              1. NotAnotherManager!*

                Yes! My standard, everyday handwriting is a mish-mash of cursive and print, but, were I to handwrite something formal, I’d use my best, most legible cursive. I also make a more concerted effort to separate letters and make larger loops when I’m writing for someone who doesn’t know me well versus a good friend/spouse. When I write things down for my kids, I tend to print because they’re still 50-50 on reading cursive, particularly my hand-scrawled, not like the printed guide cursive. I also cross 0s and 7s, but it’s not because I think I’m European, it’s because I work with computers, and it’s the quickest way to ensure that your Os/0s and 1s/7s are easily distinguished from one another.

                In short, I have no idea how one would gather anything about me from my handwriting, nor if it matters which version of it I presented.

            2. General Ginger*

              I know this is off topic, but I’m really curious, was the rest of their application/interview process standard, or were there other unconventional things?

            3. callietwo*

              I’ve applied for a couple of positions that wanted to see handwriting because there was some handwriting necessary in the course of the position and they’d had previous people with shitty writing.. One actually required you to copy over a page of random sentences. I didn’t get either position.

              Recently, I’ve been using “The Postman Knocks” printable practice pages to improve my writing as it had gotten even worse the longer I’ve owned a computer. I’m actually finding it relaxing :)

  2. H.C.*

    >>Employers aren’t usually looking up candidates’ past companies online.

    This part I beg to differ, esp since it’s so easy to do. And unless the applicant explained it in resume and/or cover letter (e.g. company that shuttered, startup that didn’t pan out to having a public presence), it would raise a yellow flag w me. But yes, easy to resolve w having work related collateral such as biz cards & brochures – but that’s only if the candidate is qualified enough otherwise to make it to that stage.

    1. Ms. Marketer*

      I would suggest that even if they don’t have a website they claim their Google listing. That would probably be enough for most people and would help their clients know hours, address, and contact information with minimal effort.

      1. nonegiven*

        My BIL never had a website for his business, he didn’t even have a computer. He claimed Google kept calling him. I tried to tell him it wasn’t Google, it was some fake SEO company wanting to sell him their service.

        Anyway, out of curiosity, I googled the town he was in and the type of business, no names. The first 8 or 9 results were different business listing pages, naming his business and giving his phone number and address, some of them even had reviews, good reviews.

        1. Ms. Marketer*

          Claiming your Google Listing is so incredibly simple and in small communities is pretty much all you need.

          RE:SEO Companies – These are the types that make a bad name for the entire industry – I hate businesses which use their customer’s lack of knowledge to confuse them and basically steal money. I’ve always told all of my clients that if I’m explaining what I’m doing and you don’t understand the purpose (not necessarily nitty gritty details but at least overall why it is going to benefit you) – I’m going my job wrong.

      2. Chinook*

        “I would suggest that even if they don’t have a website they claim their Google listing.”

        I would say they don’t even have to do that much. My mom’s store has never had and never will have an internet presence because she says she has enough business locally that know where she is on Main Street. But, if you Google her store, you will see that she exists because she has ads in the local newspaper and is even listed in the local phone book (though she never paid for ad space there), which means you can find her phone number on the internet. Business in small towns that only service the local area know that word of mouth and personal contacts are more valuable than any internet advertising. And, if it is a place that is only referral based (like a medical specialist), that is doubly true because it is a way to keep down the number of cold calls and walk-ins.

        As for when the OP moves on, she needs to keep contact information for said business around and maybe include it when they ask for references, but before that, it shouldn’t be necessary.

        1. Alli525*

          That may work for a few more years, but newer businesses should not assume that model will keep working in perpetuity.

        2. Anion*

          Yes, my agent doesn’t have much of an internet presence–I think he finally set up a very basic website, but I haven’t looked to see–because he doesn’t need it. If you’re in the business, you *know* who he is, and he gets enough submissions based on that already.

      3. Manders*

        Yes, this is a really good idea for any small company that has a physical address people need to get to. Also, Google sometimes pulls incorrect information from other directories, so someone in the office really does need to have control over that listing so you can fix errors in hours, phone numbers, addresses and suite numbers, etc.

    2. Mookie*

      I don’t know how common it is, but it probably does happen. When I was straight out of uni I found out a former workplace quite literally didn’t exist anymore (business went under, building was razed) when I’d inquired about an application being rejected. Hiring manager had found it fishy that there was no record of it anywhere, but hadn’t thought to check back several years in time, so I chucked that one off the resumé for good since it was an adolescent, part-time gig, and also I’d realized it’d be difficult to get hold of former managers and the owners in future.

      I do think it depends on the industry, though, so the LW is probably in the best position to judge whether it’ll stand out. As a layperson, I don’t find the notion of a clinic related to mental health lacking a website particularly strange, but I suppose it might depend on their services.

      When I was transitioning from one field to another (both skilled but very different kinds of labor, the first requiring knowledge and abilities usually acquired only after years of journeymen-type work, unless you were lucky enough to live where formal training was affordable, accessible, and resulted in something other than an impractical portfolio), people in the second field were wary of how many seemingly “private” jobs I’d had, working for craftswomen who’d had no website, no on-line presence, whose projects numbered in half a dozen a year at most, and whose reputation was fostered on word-of-mouth in a small subcommunity. It’s not that they didn’t think the skills would transfer — they mostly wouldn’t and I was applying for entry-level work besides — but that they questioned my entire work history and didn’t find my references very compelling. (They are a surly folk by reputation, so this can’t be helped.)

      1. Specialk9*

        I find the idea of a business not having any web presence SO STRANGE. So they want people – people in the middle of a crisis – to just magically have their phone and address, and know how to get there and how to park? This is some seriously lazy and arrogant behavior from this clinic. Yeah, I get it, you’re the only game in a small town so they’re stuck with you. But I’d expect the care to have those same lazy/arrogant tinges too.

        1. JB (not in Houston)*

          If this is a small community, there is a good chance that there’s no issue with how to park. Growing up in the burbs, I never needed to worry about that when going to a business for the first time. And if people know them from word-of-mouth, then the referring person probably tells them the phone number or where it is. This wouldn’t work in a lot of places, but I could see it working fine in some small communities. Plus, just because they don’t have an internet presence they built themselves, that doesn’t mean Google doesn’t have their contact information or there’s no listing for them on one of those online yellow pages sites.

          It’s hard for me to imagine why a business could’t benefit from at least a basic website, but not having one doesn’t necessarily make them lazy or arrogant.

          1. Kimberlee, Esq.*

            Yeah, in more rural areas even if it’s not the only clinic in town, chances are good that you just know where it is, and it wouldn’t even occur to you necessarily to check a website rather than just, you know, going there. Especially if you know it’s a clinic but don’t quite remember the name.

        2. Bye Academia*

          Not having a website isn’t the same as not having an online presence. My therapist doesn’t have a website, but she pops up when I search for therapists in my health insurance network, on zocdocs, on the state’s psychological association website, etc. I think this is really normal for independent mental health workers who aren’t part of a clinic.

          It is a little strange the clinic itself doesn’t have a website, but then again, health providers aren’t exactly known for being on the cutting edge of technology. My doctor still exclusively used paper charts until like six years ago.

        3. Doreen*

          Having a limited internet presence and no website doesn’t mean you can’t find the phone/number address. Most of the doctors I see do not have websites- but I can still find their phone number/online either in my insurance company’s directory or by Googling, which brings up results in various directories like

          Same thing with a seamstress I used recently – she doesn’t have a website but she is listed on Yelp

          1. Specialk9*

            Oh, I didn’t realize that the phone and address would still be available from one’s phone. And I’ll admit to not knowing how teeny small towns work.

            1. Doreen*

              I don’t live in a small town – I live in NYC and lots of small businesses/small professional offices don’t have websites. A medical/mental health clinic with ten or fifteen providers might have a website , but smaller practices ( including those where multiple providers share the space but are not partners ) frequently don’t .

        4. Risha*

          I don’t know that “arrogant” is the word I’d use, and to some extent I don’t find it necessarily unusual for a very small business, especially a blue collar or services one like house cleaning or pest control. With that said, it’s been a decade or more since I’ve done willingly done business with a business more complicated than a pizza parlour that doesn’t have a personalized website, and even then, I usually just move on to the next closest one.

          1. Specialk9*

            There is a DV shelter near me, presumably. I donate to them, through an anonymous drop-off point at a UU church. Which I found through the internet. :) But again, small suburb of a big city, and internet is a basic element of life here. So I admit to not understanding small rural towns.

            1. Danger: Gumption Ahead*

              My understanding (via friends – never worked in a rural area myself) is that a good chunk of the rural business and services community have minimal to no web presence unless they have a client/customer base that is heavily outsiders. So your local restaurant might pop up, but not the dentist, doctor, lawyer, etc.

        5. Miles*

          I’ve only lived in small towns and small-ish cities, but it would never occur to me to look at a company’s website for instructions on how to park. Don’t you just go to the general area and find a parking space? What info needs to be provided?

          Also, small towns tend to be less web-reliant than more urban areas and more focused on personal interaction. It’s not laziness/arrogance, it’s knowing that your customers don’t want to look at your Facebook page, they want to be able to look you up in the Yellowpages or local directory and then call and talk to an actual person if they need to know more than your address and phone number.

      2. Essie*

        I had a workplace that intentionally withdrew their web prescence due to problems caused by sharing a common abbreviation, and so the place became impossible to find once they went out of business. I dumped it from my resume as soon as I could.

        It was the equivalent of the Itsy Bitsy Melon Company deciding “Hey, let’s sell produce online, and go by IBM for short. Wait, why are we getting inundated with calls for computer problems?”

    3. NW Mossy*

      I guess it depends on how likely you think it is that applicants put fake information about past employers on their resume. In some fields, maybe it happens a lot because only particularly unscrupulous people apply for jobs peddling fake llama pelts. In others, maybe it happens very rarely because only particularly honest people apply for jobs cuddling baby llamas. In most fields, though, it’s probably reasonable to assume that the majority of the information provided isn’t willfully false when there’s not a pattern of that in the past.

    4. Koko*

      Eh, I’ve done a lot of hiring and I’m not sure I’ve ever googled a past company from a resume. While it’s easy, it does take time, and I don’t spend that much time on candidate research because it’s not my main job. I’m trying to go through resumes very quickly. I spend 20-30 seconds with each resume to decide whether to advance them to the phone screen. I’m not going to take the time to open up a browser and google multiple prior companies for multiple candidates. Just too time-consuming.

      Assuming they don’t get ruled out in the phone screen (uncommon), they move on to an in-person interview. I spend more time with their resume in preparation for the interview and coming up with questions, and while it’s possible I might google an unfamiliar past company at that stage, at that point I’m not going to rescind the interview just because nothing came up. At most I’ll ask them about it in the interview. And in practice, I see a lot of company names I don’t recognize on resumes on a regular basis (I’m in a marketing field so lots of Name Name and Name agency type names pop up) and I can’t remember ever googling one.

      1. Danger: Gumption Ahead*

        I’ve only googled something off a resume if it sounded really interesting and I wanted to know more. So it was more, “Wow! She worked on training llamas as service animals at Llama Rescue. I didn’t know you could train service llamas. I want to know more”

  3. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock*

    OP#1, I’m so sorry—this is a crappy situation. I feel your frustration re: coworkers failing to properly tip. It’s incredibly bad form. Do friendly reminders help? That is, could they be forgetting that one must tip the delivery person? Could they be assuming someone else (the company maybe?) is picking up the tip? Would the COO be willing to let the company add the tip to the $20 stipend? That way, the company could cover the tip and wouldn’t run into the “shouldn’t be dictating how to use the stipend” problem your COO noted.

    But as Alison notes, if the COO isn’t willing to adopt your suggestions for resolving the problem, restaurants/delivery services will probably just stop delivering to your office (or will slow-walk the delivery). This sucks. :(

    1. KR*

      I wonder if OP could bring it up like, “Here’s your Panera order, Percival. There wasn’t enough on your stipend to cover a standard tip. What do you want me to do next time – just call you up for the tip?”

        1. KR*

          Okay, got that out of the way. I suppose OP could frame it like, oh of course you’d want to tip. And if he says to leave it, she could say something like “Well that’s your perogative I guess!” That’s probably what I would say but I’m not sure if it’s best.

        2. Mookie*

          I don’t know if that can be helped — Mr Pinks usually aren’t ignorant so much as willful and are impervious to shame and guilt and logic — but it’s probably the most tactful script I’ve seen and it question-begs very cleverly (“oh, so what is a standard tip according to you?” “According to Miss Manners / whomever, it’s [20% or near enough to]”).

          I wish the LW’s workplace would put a policy in here. “[T]he company should[n’t] dictate how we spend our stipend” is clearly balls and bollox both, because the stipend has been dictated for specific use: food and its delivery, and food and delivery are, by custom, tipped. If petty cash or something like it can’t be tapped if an order exceeds the stipend, that’s not terrific.

          1. Mabel*

            If the employees used the stipend to eat in a restaurant, would they be cheap on the tip there, too? I am looking forward to the day when people are paid a fair wage and tips are not needed.

            1. The Cosmic Avenger*

              Seriously! A person’s livelihood shouldn’t be dependent on the whims of their customers! (Remember, we’re talking about people who already received food and service, not whether someone chose to eat there or not.) Restaurant owners are basically pawning off the responsibility for most of their labor costs onto the customer. It should be up to the business owner to pay for labor, and then charge a fair price based on the cost of labor and “materials”!

                1. Perse's Mom*

                  The restaurant industry is rife with employers that do not do that and employees who can’t afford to raise a stink about it or they’d lose that job.

                2. zora*

                  Also, minimum wage in the US is horrible. Many service workers should be making well more than that, but there is nothing obligating the employer to make up the difference if the difference would have put them over minimum wage.

                3. chchamy*

                  This is incorrect. First, the laws vary in different US states. For example, in some states, as long as your OVERALL EARNINGS across 8 hours equal out to more than the minimum wage, then the employer does not make up the difference. So, you get crappy/no tips for the first hour (b/c it’s slow) and the last hour (b/c you’re folding napkins), but fine during your shift, the employer does NOT bump up your pay during those 2 hours.

              1. The Snark Knight*

                What should be and what is are two things. It’s the worker who’s getting stiffed by someone who has a job paying more than the worker bringing the food. IF you want to change the system, change the system, don’t stiff the hard working person just because you hate the system.

            2. Snark*

              Me too. Given the frankly and overtly racist origins of the tipping custom in the US, it can die a quick death as far as I’m concerned. Just add an 18% flat service fee to the bill.

              1. zora*

                In San Francisco more food businesses are getting on board the no-tipping movement and instead bake the service charge directly into the food prices. So, it’s not even a separate service charge, you just pay slightly more for your food and all of the workers get a living wage AND benefits like health care and paid time off.

              2. Pine cones huddle*

                Or the restaurants/employers can just pay people a fair wage and not pass that responsibility on to customers. i want companies to pay people a fair wage not just add a tax to the bill to be paid by the customer to pay the server. Just flipping pay people a fair wage

                1. Pine cones huddle*

                  I guess I say this too because then your wage depends on what people order or how big the party is that’s seated in your section. Just pay people and don’t make them worry about what kind of luck they’re going to have.

                  Like if you work in sales And make commission, your employer pays that commission. The guy you just sold something to isn’t charged an extra 10%.

                2. zora*

                  Well, in order for the owners to pay the staff more, they are in most cases going to have to charge more somehow. The vast majority of restaurants run on a very very small profitability margin, there aren’t a ton of billionaire restaurant owners running around buying islands.

                  So, they will either have to increase the cost of the food, or add a fee/tax to each bill. You as the customer are where the money for the business comes from, you are the one paying the workers in the end no matter what.

            3. Hey Karma, Over here.*

              Yes, yes they would. They would say, I have $20 for food. I will spend $20 on food.

              In cases of people being new to per diems or expensing things, I could understand not knowing. But you watch and learn. And again, if the new person watches a person who has a soda with a $15 meal, that’s what is learned.

              In the case of LW, can the COO send a message to employees to “consider appropriate tipping when ordering in,” to remind people who don’t think or inform people who don’t know? And then leave it, because it’s done.

            4. Starbuck*

              Even in state like Washington, where food service staff are required to be paid at least the minimum wage hourly (and it’s relatively high) before tips, people still tip just as much anyway even though I think at this point it’s common knowledge that we’ve update the system. Some places in big cities experiment with banning tipping and just paying staff/charging customers more, but it seems like a toss up whether people appreciate that. I am ready to be done with tipping, but despite the changes made here it’s still the custom so I do it anyway.

              1. Mabel*

                I like the idea that someone mentioned elsewhere in the comments: adding a percentage “service fee” to each check, which is used to help pay servers a livable wage. It doesn’t require the meal prices to increase, but the money gets to the same place, and it’s not dependent on the good will of customers.

                1. Karen D*

                  Somebody did a study of those added “service fees” and in many cases, the employer keeps them or distributes them among several employees. So they actually make things WORSE for traditionally tipped employees – customers who would normally tip don’t, because they assume the “service fee” is actually a tip. The whole situation is fairly crappy.

                2. Starbuck*

                  The service fee idea is BS. Just raise the prices on the menu, don’t make me do extra math in my head to figure out what my meal is going to cost.

                3. chchamy*

                  “Somebody did a study of those added “service fees” and in many cases, the employer keeps them or distributes them among several employees.”

                  True — and that’s so back of the house employees (dishwashers, etc) are also receiving a portion of the service fee. That system may be less desirable to servers, but it’s more fair to the overall staff.

                  That being said: I’m ready to be done with tipping. Raise the price of the food, I will pay it, and you pay your employees fairly.

                4. The Snark Knight*

                  Every last person I know in the food service industry hates that system. They wind up with less money, and the hardworking servers end up busing their butts for what turns out to be the same pay as the lazy ones.

          2. Mr. Pink*

            Note for those who haven’t seen the movie “Reservoir Dogs,” at the very beginning of the movie, there is a conversation about tipping. One of the characters, whose character is called Mr. Pink (played by Steve Buscemi) goes on a large rant on why he doesn’t tip. The clip is on youtube if you are curious.

            And yes, for the most part we are impervious to shame and guilt. Trust me, we’ve all gotten a lecture or two from some ex-server who will insist that by not tipping we are in the same moral circles as nazis. To be honest, I’ve caught way more heat over not tipping in my life than being an actual real-life Satanist.

        3. The Cosmic Avenger*

          If coworkers proved resistant, I would just start ordering on my own, and hope that most places remembered that I tipped well. I don’t know how you could say that to your coworkers without making sound bad, but they *should* be embarrassed about not tipping or tipping poorly! “I prefer to tip well, so I’ll just order separately.” is the most neutral way I can think of.

          1. Specialk9*

            I had a co-worker who refused to tip for an ugly reason. She was a low paid secretary and would often go to an informal team restaurant lunch. She ordered midrange cost food but also refused to tip. (As opposed to cheaper food to allow a tip, like I did when that broke.) At first those of us with higher salaries covered her tip, then I asked her why she doesn’t tip, at all.

            Her stated reason was that it was the waiters’ fault for having a bad job. “If they want to be paid well they should get a better job.”

            So… you’re saying that you recognize that they’re poor and disadvantaged, and as the lowest-paid secretary, you’re blaming them for it, when you’re literally denying them wages?!

            (As an aside, in recognition of income disparities, we had made sure to invite her when we just went to a deli to grab something too, so if she wanted the cheap social energy, she could just get water or fries or the light weight stuff from the salad bar.)

            1. Turquoise Cow*

              Wow what an @$$.

              I’ve known plenty of cheapskates who tip horribly (my husband always over tips when we eat with my father-in-law and split the bill because he gives barely 10%) but never anyone who just *didn’t* tip, and blamed it on the waitstaff!

            2. Heather*

              OMG, that sounds like my ex refusing to tip hotel housekeepers. (“They CHOSE that job!” Yeah, jackass, I’m sure they turned down that hedge fund job because they’d rather clean toilets for strangers. And yes, that’s part of why he’s an ex!)

            3. Hey Karma, Over here.*

              I have one like that. In the 1990s we were all support staff in a University department. I had just started and was invited to order in with the group. I was warned by a peer who was in her 20s, first job like me, that “Jane” did the ordering. Oh cool, I would hate to order meals for 10-12 people. Yeah, Karma, it’s not a favor. Really? Nope. She uses the tip money to cover her meal.
              I swear to Jeebus.

            4. Bea*

              These people are just bitter and lonely I’ve come to realize over the years. They’re pissed they’re low rung, they probably won’t move up the ladder much at all so they shit on anyone “below” them, any reason to feel superior to others.

              I wouldn’t associate with anyone like this, even if it’s a coworker, when you dine with assholes, the staff usually hates you all by association and I can’t blame them much for it.

            5. The Snark Knight*

              I’ve seen that attitude, and a worse one: People who claim to “protest the system” by tipping the wait staff because “It’s the employer’s responsibility to pay his staff, not mine”.

          1. Mr. Pink*

            And then what happens when that person comes back to you and demands that 18%? Yes, most people will agree that person is a jerk, but practically you could be hard-pressed to defend not giving that money back. Taking someones money without their permission is theft, even if you are not keeping that money and instead gave it to a server who probably earned it.

            1. Snark*

              Nope. I’d look at them blankly and go, “Yeah, it was for tip.” And if they demanded it back, I’d say, “No, it was for the tip.” I have absolutely no problem assuming that tip is included in the cost of getting food delivered, because….it is.

              1. Mr. Pink*

                As a practical point, having someone above you (which as an admin is usually everybody else) calling you a thief is not a good career move. Everyone has the hills that they are willing to die on, so all I have to say is to choose those hills wisely.

      1. Falling Diphthong*

        The problem I see is that the dialogue is the same if Percival is a miserable tipper and the critiquer more in touch with local norms, or if Percival is a standard tipper and the critiquer believes rates should be higher. If I’m Percival, I am probably happy to view the latter as accurate.

      2. Case of the Mondays*

        What our receptionist does if someone doesn’t leave enough cash to cover their tip is she throws in a couple bucks but then says to the person that ordered “Percival, you didn’t leave enough money for your order. With tip it was $X. Please bring $3 down with you for me when you come to get your food.” She doesn’t ask permission. She just does it. So far everyone has paid her back but occasionally it is a day or two later if they didn’t have any more cash on them. No one has said “no, I meant to to tip cheaply.”

        1. zapateria la bailarina*

          This is such a risky move though… You never know if someone will actually pay you back.

        2. Tuxedo Cat*

          She never sees the money again is what will happen. People can be truly unashamed of not providing tip and I find more often than not that people who don’t tip or tip poorly are doing this deliberately. There’s a friend of a friend who would eat out with us. We split the bill evenly and someone announced how much tip would be (around $3-4). She’d either leave a dollar or no tip.

        3. caryatis*

          I would be really annoyed if the receptionist started trying to tell me how much to tip. That is not her job and she does not get to decide what I do with my money.

            1. CrazyEngineerGirl*

              And how is it the receptionists job/privilege to decide decide what that amount is? If the tip I choose to leave works out to 18% but the receptionist has decided tips must be 20% and now demands more money from me? Yeah, no.

              1. Snark*

                My feeling is that if you’re leaving a typical tip, nobody’s going to notice or care whether you’re tipping 18 or 20%. But if you’re that wrapped up in the difference between 18% and 20% on a typical lunch bill, place your order and pick it up yourowndamnself, or bring a sandwich.

          1. Mr. Pink*

            If our receptionist tried that with me, at first I would laugh and refuse. If she insisted, that would be a written disciplinary write up for insubordination.

              1. Mr. Pink*

                This reply feels weird, as I mentioned that I would write her up for insubordination, which clearly implies that I have authority over her. If she wanted to be my enemy, she would find out that the guy who can fire you is an even worse enemy.

              1. Mr. Pink*

                An equally simple solution would be to fire the receptionist who is aggravating other staff about their tips.

                1. Snark*

                  That’s not a solution to the actual problem, which is people being cheap and failing to pay for a service they’re using.

                2. Candi*

                  I find it amazing that you think that because you work in the same office as the receptionist, you’d automatically have disciplinary and firing authority over her. In any business above about 20 people or so, the receptionist would have her own chain of command. Anyone outside of an official chain trying to write up or fire employees that are not under authority is stepping on some serious toes and being extremely unprofessional. Heck, there’s a bunch of advice on this site about how to talk to someone else’s manager for real and perceived infractions!

            1. Danger: Gumption Ahead*

              That’s why it makes sense for the receptionist to go to the COO rather than the individual employees. I assume if the COO said that when she authorized the food stipend, the $20 is supposed to cover tax and tip, you’d give it more weight (or pack your own lunch)

          2. CrazyEngineerGirl*

            I agree. I tip and tip well, but I would so very much not be okay with the receptionist doing this. I wouldn’t be okay with any of the suggestions that state or imply that I or anyone else has to tip a certain amount.

            1. Snark*

              But you do. Like, I’m not even implying, I’ll just come out with it loud and proud: you do absolutely have to tip a certain amount, and that amount is 15-20%.

          3. MadGrad*

            Eh, I think you’re tipping a fair amount you should feel justified in talking to the boss about it. If you’re not, then I think a shame fee is totally warranted (especially if you’re handing off the responsibility of interacting with the delivery person you’re being a complete jerk to). I don’t think most receptionists have much power beyond general population peer pressure on most coworkers, so it’s not like she can force you into anything if your conscience doesn’t.

          4. Someone else*

            In this case it’s not your money, it’s the company’s. They’re just letting your order with it.

      3. PM Jesper Berg*

        “I wonder if OP could bring it up like, “Here’s your Panera order, Percival. There wasn’t enough on your stipend to cover a standard tip. What do you want me to do next time – just call you up for the tip?”

        That would be a serious, serious mistake. OP is a receptionist. Receptionists who make more senior staff uncomfortable or shame them on a regular basis don’t last long. This is a textbook case of “not my circus, not my monkeys.”

        1. Candi*

          Not always, as seen on this site’s posts and comments. “That’s just the way she is” happens way too often.

          I think officially the LW can suggest to the COO that a reminder be sent out it’s polite to tip, especially if they’re not in one of the seven total minimum wage before tips states, but otherwise her hands are tied.

          Unofficially and unprofessionally, the grape vine is a thing. (Note: don’t actually do this.)

          Also unofficially, this kind of nonsense tends to get people knocked to the bottom of the stack when not-time-sensitive tasks are involved, consciously or subconsciously.

    2. Questions*

      I’m wondering if OP can potentially reframe it as a $2 delivery charge rather than tip. That would allow other team members to choose not paying it by going to pick it up themselves and keep the company from potentially being blacklisted from delivery (which just punishes other employees)

      1. TL -*

        I don’t think that’s a good idea – they’re going to be really annoyed if the charge at point of delivery is different than charge at time of purpose.

        1. Fire*

          Because there ARE delivery fees, but they go to supplies for the deliveries (bags, the kitchen’s extra labour, plastic utensils, etc etc), BUT people see that and assume it’s going to the driver/rider, and then don’t tip. Or throw tantrums about it. People threw massive fits about their $6 sandwich costing $2 more when my old franchise implemented it, and punished us, the delivery riders, with maaaaaaybe 50 cents in tips.

    3. Ripley*

      This happened in our office. Multiple places stopped making deliveries because the employees that would regularly order lunch tipped poorly or flat-out refused to tip.

      1. Bananabiat*

        If this kind of repercussion occurs, can’t it be said that the poor tippers are acting in a way detrimental to the company and could be held accountable by the company? Especially if it means that the executives and csuites can’t get delivery from their favorite places.

        1. Ripley*

          Fortunately we work in an area with an endless supply of catering and delivery options. If we do order from somewhere that typically won’t deliver to us, we will mention on the phone that we will definitely tip the driver. It’s embarrassing on so many levels.

          Our front desk admin has made suggestions to the worst offenders, but it’s usually met with “I can’t afford to tip” or “not my problem”, although they get delivery almost daily.

          1. Snark*

            If you “can’t afford to tip,” my dude, I better see you bringing peanut butter on Wonder bread for lunch.

      2. Anion*

        I was going to say something similar. I worked for a restaurant delivery service (as in, we did deliveries for restaurants that didn’t have their own delivery services) and if our drivers got stiffed regularly at an address, we’d start refusing deliveries–and we’d tell them why, too. “Sorry, our drivers do work for tips, so I’m afraid we can’t continue sending them out to do unpaid work. We’d be happy to start adding the driver’s gratuity to your final bill total, if you’d like to keep receiving our service.”

        And then we would. We had a few places where 10% was added directly to their bill before we gave them their total.

        OP might want to consider mentioning this to her co-workers.

    4. Jesmlet*

      I’m curious how much of a tip OP expects people to give. I don’t calculate percentage on deliveries like I do while dining in. I usually do 18-22% in restaurants but I’ve never given more than $5 on a delivery tip no matter how much the meal was. Picked this up from my parents I guess so maybe the coworkers had similar experiences? I don’t tip the Staples delivery guy and delivery people aren’t short changed on wages like waiters so I just don’t get tipping more than a few bucks. Feel free to pick apart my practices though (nicely please!)

      1. peachie*

        That’s fair; I definitely feel different about tipping for delivery. For me, though, it’s not a huge difference–it’s just that I feel comfortable with a 15% tip on a large order for delivery, whereas I always tip 20% at a table. If I have to tip in cash, I’ll do similarly, though I’ve definitely scrambled to try to get enough cash together for a decent tip, as less than $5 no matter the price feels wrong to me.

        1. Artemesia*

          delivery people are paid at least minimum wage; in many places waiters make about 2.25 an hour — the tips are their wages.

          1. CMart*

            The first part of your comment isn’t necessarily true. A lot of my friends have done food delivery and nearly all of them were paid sub-minimum (though not as low as servers tend to be paid) because the restaurant owners assumed they’d be tipped.

          2. XK*

            Waiters make minimum wage – the business is responsible for making up what the tips do not cover. Most will make the equivalent including tips.

            1. Someone else*

              This is the law. Virtually no restaurants actually follow it and make up the difference. In expensive restaurants, it rarely comes into play because even if one table doesn’t tip, average tips from the rest of their shift probably still means they make more than minimum. In cheaper places, those people just end up underpaid because if they push back about the employer not making up the difference, they get fired and they generally can’t afford lawyers. It is extremely common for people working the tipped minimum wage to not have the employer make up the difference.

              1. Candi*

                Here’s the thing: in WA, full minimum wage, without accounting for tips, must be paid to servers. That’s $9 something an hour. At least three (chain!) restaurants I’ve been to have one or two career servers each that I know of, who each pick up 35-40 hours.

                Thing is, even that level of pay (which hours mean health benefits) in our city which has decent rental rates, it’s one unexpected expense and you are done. Server wages just stink.

                And many servers are too uninformed to even know their rights -and unethical management takes advantage of this all over the place, even if official corporate policy is actually reasonable. (It can happen.)

                (I have noticed that making our state DOL unhappy is not a good idea. As in witnessing a manager at a fast food restaurant ordering a worker on his state-mandated break and the manager taking over the register level of not making the DOL unhappy. And yes, the manager said it was state “rules”.) (law)

          3. Anion*

            Nope. At our delivery place, drivers got a flat per-delivery fee (they also paid their own gas out of that). Tips were where the money came from.

      2. The Cosmic Avenger*

        That’s a false analogy. The Staples delivery person drives a company truck, and the company pays for gas, maintenance, and insurance, and pays them at least the standard minimum wage, probably significantly higher because they may need a commercial driver’s license and other training to drive a large box truck.

        Food delivery people almost always drive their own vehicles, pays for all vehicle expenses themselves, and often can be paid only tipped minimum wage ($2.65/hour nationally).

        I also tip well on pickup orders, because usually the waiters have to put the order into the kitchen, then box it up when it’s ready, which takes them away from their tables. And the places I order from more than once or twice always get my order right, and usually label the individual boxes well, so we’re not guessing whose food is whose.

          1. Mabel*

            I have a friend who started delivering food because she was laid off. I think she’s almost like a freelancer, so the tips make a big difference.

        1. Jesmlet*

          Not in my state. Food delivery workers here have the legal right to minimum wage (recent court ruling) which is $10.10 this year and $15 by 2022. Tipping someone for putting things in a bag is absurd to me. I did that and waited tables for 2 years and never expected a tip for that because there’s really no service involved. Do you tip your grocery clerk for bagging your food items, or your clothing store cashier for folding the clothes and putting them in bags? Yes, I know the wage is different but I don’t think that should matter.

          1. Koko*

            I mean, from a certain perspective you could rationalize any tip that way – should someone really get a tip for carrying my bags at the hotel when the airport staff transfer them without getting a tip? It’s more complicated than just the work activity itself, there’s also the work context.

            I think the difference between the grocery clerk and cashier bagging vs a restaurant staff bagging a take-out order is essentially an opportunity cost. Because they work for tips and it’s zero-sum, the time they spend on a pickup order is time they aren’t spending on an in-house diner who might tip them. The grocery clerk isn’t getting tipped no matter how he spends his time. It’s the same reason you tip more on a craft cocktail than you do on a bottle of beer. It’s not that it’s harder work, it’s that the bartender could have opened 5 bottles at $1 apiece in the time it took him to make your one mojito. If you want him to come back to the bar and make you another mojito and not ignore you an hour later it helps to make it worth his time.

            I get take-out once a week from a local restaurant. The total comes to $10.59 and I tip $1.50 because they get my food ready super fast (usually within 10 minutes of my call!) and it’s bagged with care.

            1. Jesmlet*

              That’s an interesting way of putting it. Not promising I’ll change my mind but maybe I’ll take it on more of a case by case basis.

          1. The Cosmic Avenger*

            Yes, it is. The Dept. of Labor rule is that “Tipped employees are those who customarily and regularly receive more than $30 per month in tips”. While some states may specify that delivery drivers or even waiters get a higher minimum wage, even the same as the standard (untipped) minimum wage, that is up to each state to determine. And just because someone worked delivery and made regular minimum wage doesn’t mean that it’s the law — some businesses actually do that voluntarily.


        2. Anion*

          YES! Not tipping on pickup orders drives me bonkers. I don’t leave as much as I do for in-restaurant service, but they still did some work for me.

          The restaurant where I used to tend bar did take-out orders as well as orders for large party-sized entrees etc. We had one company nearby that would regularly place HUGE party tray orders–like $250, $300–and never left any kind of tip when they picked it up. I’d sometimes have to start my shift half an hour early to prep those things, because the party entrees came with party-sized sides/appetizers that were the server’s responsibility to make (the bartender’s responsibility on a take-out order) and could not be made in advance (think salads and, uh…breadsticks. Yes, it was that restaurant you’re thinking of).

          Not only that, but the order was rung up under my log-in. We were expected to declare at least 10% of the total orders taken under our log-in as tips (this is typical for bartenders & servers, btw, not a quirk of that particular employer). So a $250 order meant I was forced to declare at least $25 as taxable income, even though I didn’t get a dime. Large orders like that actually raised my taxes! UGH. We used to beg management to let us put an automatic gratuity on those orders–we did that in-store for parties larger than six (or eight?) people, and these orders were definitely for more than that number of people, but they refused to let us. It used to infuriate all of us. I still have a grudge against you, Miata dealership.

          1. Candi*

            I was shocked when I learned the IRS charges on tips. Not the amount you get, but the amount you’re EXPECTED to get based on what was spent! That’s just ridiculous.

            Was this a while ago? Last year I heard the percentage was 11%.

        3. PM Jesper Berg*

          Again FWIW: the Emily Post Institute says that for pickup orders, there’s no obligation to tip, although 10% on “large, complicated orders” or for curb delivery is appropriate.

          1. SignalLost*

            I’m a huge fan of formal etiquette. I disagree with them on this, mostly from the standpoint that etiquette generally assumes that only two parties are in a relationship – host and guests, for example, where the host is one party and the guests are another party. In the case of wages and tipping or not tipping, there are three parties involved, and one is the government, which is self-evidently immune to etiquette. If someone doesn’t want to tip, don’t tip (and take your social lumps), but let’s not give them the excuse of saying “but Emily Post says so!” I can look up formal etiquette rules for duels, too, but that doesn’t make dueling a good idea.

      3. Samata*

        I am really torn on this. My roommate in college was a pizza delivery girl. She made $7.00 an hour (20 years ago) and was reimbursed mileage for her car – which was a clunker that got amazing gas mileage because she put so many miles on it. To her the tips were just icing – and she made BANK. In comparison I was a bartender making $3 an hour so my tips were actually my income.

        I get my hackles up when people who don’t tip servers/bartenders but with delivery folks I have a very blurry line of what the right % is, of if it’s a $$ amount. I don’t know if all delivery services are the same in all restaurants, though.

        What I really want to know, though, is where are they ordering lunch from if $20 only cover the meal and leaves no room for tipping. I rarely get lunch out, but when I do I think $9 is too much!

          1. Samata*

            That’s my guess. The $ amount is burned into my memory because I remember thinking on more than one occasion that I need to be doing THAT and not bartending!

          1. Samata*

            It doesn’t get better mileage by being drive more. She didn’t want to destroy a new car by racking up tons of miles so she bought a clunker that got good gas mileage so she “made” more on the mileage reimbursement and didn’t run the wheels off a new car.

        1. Koko*

          Pizza delivery was super lucrative for me in the early 00s when gas was still less than $1.50 a gallon. I made $6/hour, plus 50c a delivery and tips. At 4-5 deliveries an hour with an average tip of $3, I averaged at least $20/hour.

          Around 2004 or 2005 gas crossed the $2 threshold and I quit my job in favor of another one because I felt like I wasn’t making enough money anymore due to the cost of gas.

          Ten years later I took up delivery driving again as a second/night job. It was still decent money but nowhere near as lucrative as it used to be. Gas prices really make all the difference.

      4. Diane Nguyen*

        People who deliver in their own cars (so, most restaurant deliver people) are kind of shortchanged in their wages, considering the fuel they use and wear-and-tear they put on their personal vehicles. If you don’t want to calculate a percentage, I’d recommend giving $5 most of the time — more in bad weather.

      5. Koko*

        I agree with you in general, but in this case the stipend is $20 which means at max, enforcing a 20% tip would be $3.33 on a max $16.67 order. So this isn’t a case of someone capping a high order value at a lower tip percentage. This is people order a $19 order and tipping $1.

        I worked as a delivery driver for many years. The standard tip on large value orders like you get at a pizza place where often the delivery minimum is $20 or more, is 10-15% which usually works out to $2-4. The standard tip on small orders like you get at a Jimmy Johns where the order value is often $8, is $2-3. Basically at both gigs I considered $5 to be a very large tip and $2 or more to be sufficient.

        The only exception to this is when I delivered catering orders. If you just bought $180 worth of food, probably on a company expense account, the least you can do is give me $10-20 for carrying a thousand pounds of food in multiple trips from my car.

      6. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock*

        The default for delivery is 10%, but in certain localities, the best practice is to tip at the same rate that you would pay in a sit-down restaurant. It all has to do with how tips are divided, etc.

        But the Staples delivery guy is slightly different than say, a movers. That said, my understanding is that in places like NYC (and some other metro areas) you might be expected to tip him, too. But again, super variable by the type of delivery service and where you live.

      7. Fire*

        Trust me, unless your order is really really big we’re stoked about $5. I currently work in a store with a customer base where always tipping at least 20% is normal, but at my old workplace sub $1 no matter how big the order was more the norm, not including catering (which we still got stiffed on, but we work SIGNIFICANTLY harder on those, both to make and to deliver, so the expected dollar amount is much higher). I’ve gotten 50 cent tips on $50 orders, and it sucked but it wasn’t out of place.

      8. sayevet*

        Maybe this is the time to start asking companies these questions before choosing to order from them? You’ll feel confident that you’re making a comfortable decision and you’ll be able to share your knowledge when these issues come up again :)

      9. Happy Lurker*

        I specifically over-tip every food delivery that I receive….I usually get huge smiles and very fast service, especially on repeats. To the point where other people mention…”are you the queen or something”. I smile and wave.

    5. peachie*

      I wonder if the receptionist could write up a small “tip calculator” card–since it sounds like the price of lunch will always be under $20, she could make a grid with prices in dollar increments with how much to tip for 15%, 18%, 20% and how much the total will be with that tip. Not only would it nudge the under-tippers without calling them out specifically, but I bet other folks would find a cheat sheet telling them how much to tip and how much they can spend on actual food handy.

      (To be clear, I don’t think it’s her job to do this–it just might help the problem with minimal awkwardness, depending on the office culture.)

      1. SignalLost*

        I don’t think that’s going to help. It sounds like the office culture is “be jerks,” and if the COO doesn’t buy in, that won’t change. And it SUPER sucks for the OP, because she’s the front line on this, not the crappy tippers.

        Of course, OP could always work with some of the delivery drivers and restaurants to make sure that the COO’s order is denied because they don’t deliver to that business due to the tips, which might cause the overall lunch policy to change, but that’s a Batman gambit for sure.

    6. Phoenix Programmer*

      Wait delivery drivers are also supposed to get 20%??? That seems excessive.

      When I tip a server it’s for taking order timely and accurate. Keeping my drink full. Keeping me informed of my food status. Offering informed opinions on pairings or entrees. Delivering my food quickly and mess free. Having a pleasant surprise getting check to me quickly and coming back with payment quickly.

      Delivery just delivers the sandwich. 10% Max.

      1. AMPG*

        But you brought PREPARED FOOD TO MY HOME. That’s way more than carrying it from the kitchen to my table. I pretty much always tip 20% on delivery, since I’m literally paying you so that I don’t have to leave my house (or office, in this case) for restaurant food.

        1. Anion*

          Taking food to your house is more than bringing it from the kitchen to your table, yes, but that’s not all wait staff does. They greet you and take your order. They answer your questions. They pour your drinks (or collect alcoholic drinks from the bartender, in which case they have to order them from the bartender, too, and wait for them). They might have to prep your salads/appetizers/deserts (depending on what they are). They refill your drinks. They bring you a new fork when you dropped one. They check on you. They go ask the chef if you can have peas instead of corn. They bring another plate so you can share your chicken with your kid (or they bring crayons etc. for said kid). They make polite chit-chat. They bring you more ketchup or sauce.

          Wait staff are tipped better because they have to deal with us, in other words. :-) Delivery drivers don’t.

          I mean, I think it’s great that you tip drivers so well. I just don’t see the jobs as equivalent at all, and I’ve been a delivery driver, a waitress, and a bartender.

        2. Parenthetically*

          Same. I used to deliver pizza and I hated every second. I barely have to leave my couch for delivery. That’s worth four bucks on a twenty dollar pizza any day of the week, IMO. (And really, isn’t that what we’re talking about? The difference between a 10% tip and a 20% tip is ordinarily no more than a few bucks, right? Worth it for me, and such an easy way to show solidarity and maybe make someone feel less burdened in a pretty grueling job for a couple minutes.)

      2. Fire*

        Delivering is hard, man. I do bike delivery, so there’s a very obviously physically difficult element (and we deliver by bike rain or shine). But even with cars you: Keep customer informed if it’s going to be later than the quoted time (we try to keep that from being necessary, but sh*t happens, especially if there’s a surprise rush). Make sure everything is in the bag, and pack it in such a way it doesn’t get crushed or explode en route. Take stock of available deliveries and plan out the most efficient route to get as many deliveries out as fast as possible. Do the same “make sure nothing gets crushed or exploded” thing while packing either the car or bag. Execute that route, adjusting as necessary based on traffic. Deliver the thing to your door. Return to vehicle. Repeat as long as necessary until car/bag is empty. Return to store in the most efficient manner to do it all again.

        (I actually know nothing about car delivery peoples’ routing skills or if they even try instead of blindly following GPS, but bike messengers put a lot of effort into it to the extent we have street races where we practice it)

      3. Anion*

        I’ve been a waitress. a bartender, and a delivery driver, and IMO 10% is just fine for a delivery driver.

        1. Anion*

          Now that I’m thinking of it, perhaps I should have said, “10% or a minimum of $2,” actually, because we never order less than $20 worth of food [for four people] and always tip at least $2. I’d be embarrassed to tip less than that for any delivery, even if the delivered item was only $5.

    7. Browser*

      My company has a strict policy on how much we are required to tip (exactly 15%, if I recall) because it is about upholding the company’s reputation.

      1. Parenthetically*

        Yeah, a friend of mine’s work would reimburse for work lunches if and only if they tipped at least 20%. If their name was going to be out in the community, it was going to be with a good reputation for tipping well. Most employees ended up tipping 25% or so, and every restaurant in the area loved them.

  4. LadyL*

    Oof, #1 I feel for you. Bad tipping is a topic that gets me heated immediately. I’ve been in your position, being the face of the non-tip, and it suuuucks. Once I went to sign for my coworker’s food delivery and noticed the tip line was left blank so I used a walkie to ask her how much to write in. After a few moments of uncomfortable static filled silence she said, “Nothing.” I know she wouldn’t have had the guts to do that to the guy in person, but she was fine putting me in that position. I ended up giving the guy my own money to cover the tip, because I really cannot just not tip someone. She found out about it too, and I think she was irritated with me, but whatever.

    I wish we could make this easier for you, because signing for/receiving food with no tip is awkward, and I think acknowledging it could also be super awkward. Confronting the individual coworkers is probably a bad call as well. Ugh, your coworkers have really put you in a crappy spot, they’re jerks for not tipping and they’re jerks for putting you in this situation.

    1. Mookie*

      Wow, thank you for doing that. I agree, this is a crap position for LW1 to be in. If she takes regular deliveries from the same places every week, I imagine those businesses have discovered a pattern to these orders (no more than $20, many tips only cover whatever’s left over after the $20 has been spent) that they don’t feel she’s personally responsible for this.

      I imagine the stipend also covers meals taken off-site and that this is why it’s being offered as opposed to regular catering or bulk delivery orders (which would make up for the lack of tip in the form of surcharges), but it’s one solution to this problem if it were logistically possible and practical. Sounds like the COO has not acknowledged the problem, though, and therefore is uninterested in fielding potential solutions.

    2. JessaB*

      Honestly management has put the burden on the OP. As has been said above, a stipend for something comes with strings attached, for instance I’m pretty sure they’d frown on having alcohol delivered (if it was legal where this is,) there is absolutely no reason except that the manager doesn’t want to deal, that the rule can’t be you have 20 dollars, INCLUDING tip and at this company we tip.

      I’m wondering, does the employee get to keep the difference? I mean is the 20 buck stipend “up to 20 bucks,” or a flat 20 and if they spend 16 they keep 4? If so that may be driving the non tippers.

      But it’s absobloodylutely ethical to put rules on the stipend.

      1. Rusty Shackelford*

        I’m wondering, does the employee get to keep the difference? I mean is the 20 buck stipend “up to 20 bucks,” or a flat 20 and if they spend 16 they keep 4? If so that may be driving the non tippers.

        She said the nontippers tend to spend every available cent on the food, so it sounds like they’re just trying to max their order, not take home the change.

    3. Jeanne*

      I think the individual coworkers should have to sign for their own food. They should have to face the guy and not tip. It’s too easy for them now with the receptionist getting everything. We always had to come down to security and accept our food if we got delivery. They have to walk to the front desk to pick it up anyway I am sure so that the receptionist doesn’t leave things unwatched. When their food comes, they must answer the phone and come right away.

      1. SJPxo*

        As an English person don’t even get me started on tipping. I really wish the US would just pay their food workers a living wage and stop putting people in the situation of having to tip them. Here in the UK tips are given for going above and beyond on service, it’s not a ‘given’ we’d receive one and believe me I’ve worked as service staff. It’s like, I paid for the food and the cost of that food should include the cost of the service staff in my opinion.

        1. Falling Diphthong*

          US person who loathes tipping. I do it, 10% for deliveries as in this example, because it is the norm, but I don’t like it. Especially for instances where I’m NOT tipping for “great service” because the service hasn’t even happened yet–I’m just expected to put money in the jar after placing my order, regardless of whether or not the eventual order is right. Or to tip for the timely delivery when I don’t know if it will be timely.

          1. zapateria la bailarina*

            For deliveries you can write in your tip when you sign for the delivery – why are you putting it in ahead of time?

            1. zapateria la bailarina*

              Also for me a tip jar is different than tipping a waiter… Usually cashiers and food preparers are paid full minimum wage, not the lower minimum wage that waitstaff get.

              Maybe I’m wrong and I should start contributing to tip jars! But that’s always been my take on it.

              1. peachie*

                I think you’re correct (legally, I’m unsure, just speaking from personal experience). I definitely don’t feel like I have to put the full 20% in a tip jar, but I do like to put in any spare change or small bills I have. Minimum wage is not that much money, and it’s nice having a little something extra at the end of the day.

              2. AMPG*

                I’m the same way – I only put spare change in tip jars because I expect that the counter staff is receiving a regular wage.

                1. zora*

                  It’s fine if you think of the tip jar as supplementing the workers and they are getting paid enough already.

                  But my framing of the tip jar is: I only spend money on food at places I like most of the time. I love having a great independent coffee shop by my house, I love the food at sweetgreen, so I put as much into the tip jar as I can afford, because I want this place to continue to be profitable and not have to shut down. And I know a lot of people NEVER put any tips in the jars at all, so I want to make up for that if I can. I never put less than a $1 bill in any tip jar and I usually try to put more if I can, and that has been true even when I made barely over minimum wage myself. If I couldnt’ afford to tip, I couldn’t afford to get that latte and I made coffee at home.

                  Now that I am making more money, I put more. And sometimes I do random large tips at my favorite places, a $5. A $20 near the holidays. I want these places to succeed so I put my money toward the things I care about.

                2. SignalLost*

                  Yeah – we know who put the $.12 in. We do not like them much, at the places I’ve worked that have tip jars. For me it’s paper bills or no tip jar, and it’s mostly because there IS that person who thinks we’re gonna hear the sweet, sweet clink of coins going into the jar and be all “omg so much moneys let me give my bestest service”. It is always about six pennies. No tip in the jar isn’t actively insulting the way a crap tip is.

            2. Murphy*

              Lots of places give you the option to put it in ahead of time, and some give you a completed receipt without a place to add a tip.

            3. The Other Dawn*

              A pizza place I frequent requires the tip to be added at the time you place a delivery order if you’re using a credit/debit card for the order plus the tip. But if you want to pay the tip in cash, or the order plus tip in cash, then that’s not required.

            1. fposte*

              That’s a red herring, though; we’re not talking about a position getting tipped minimum wage but full minimum wage, and there are lots of those where it isn’t traditional to tip. Does the fact that you don’t tip retail workers on your purchases mean you don’t care if they earn a living wage?

              1. Detective Amy Santiago*

                Most delivery drivers don’t receive any sort of reimbursement for gas or mileage. Tips cover those extra expenses.

                1. fposte*

                  They’re way beyond those expenses in most places, though, and there’s no convention for tipping the rural mail and package delivery people who use their own vehicles (or public transit). It’s not as simple as living wage vs. not.

                2. Jesmlet*

                  Standard mileage reimbursement rates are 53.5cents/mile which covers gas and wear and tear. Should we then calculate tips based on how far away the restaurant is from the delivery point?

            2. Falling Diphthong*

              By this reasoning, I would tip 100 or 200% rather than 10%, with the idea that I would bring everyone with whom I interacted up to a living wage for that brief fraction of an hour. I said that I tip in accordance with social norms, so I don’t get where my disliking the social norm (which is absent in numerous countries with excellent service) means I am refusing someone a living wage.

              Even there, some branches of a given restaurant will have a tip jar, and other branches have a charitable donation box, and others have nothing.

              1. PM Jesper Berg*

                I too wish that the US would move to a European or Japanese style system of service charges rather than tipping, but will tip according to social norms in restaurants, barber shops, food delivery, etc.

                Having said that, where I see businesses trying to *shape* new social norms — no. I don’t tip at Starbucks or similar places. A lot of them are installing new credit card machines that automatically attempt to add a tip that you must opt-out of. But Emily Post says you don’t have to tip in cafes, and in my experience she’s right; I’m not changing that because you rolled out new technology. Uber is a similar story. For years Uber correctly emphasized that a “no-tipping” culture was part of its value proposition; I’m not changing that merely because a new CEO decided otherwise.

        2. Owl*

          I think a lot of Americans would agree with you, but the system is what it is at the moment, and stiffing the service staff isn’t going to change the system or cause a revolution, it just hurts the service staff.

          1. Detective Amy Santiago*

            Exactly this. Food service workers bust their butts day in and day out and they deserve to be paid a fair wage. Until we can change the laws to put that burden on the employers, we need to honor the social contract and tip appropriately for service.

            1. fposte*

              But again, if busting your butt for low pay is what earns you a tip, we need to tip at just about every purchase. If we don’t, we’re being ruled more by convention than principle.

              1. Jesmlet*

                Exactly this. I get tipping restaurant workers who aren’t paid a full wage and need the tips to make the difference, but either we tip all low-paying service workers or we change the convention to make employers pay them accordingly. Nowhere in the “social contract” does it mandate I tip the grocery store cashier but I know she makes the same as the delivery driver. What’s the difference? I spent 2 years as a waitress and I would have much rather worked for $2/hour plus tips than work for just $10-15/hour.

                1. fposte*

                  Mostly it seems to be proximity to food that matters. We don’t conventionally tip low-paid health care workers, even those who take their own cars or public transportation for in-home care, but we tip pizza delivery people; we tip baristas, but not salesladies who fetch us clothing in different sizes while we’re in the dressing room.

                2. peachie*

                  Interestingly, a few friends and relatives worked as grocery store cashiers (at different grocery stores), and I was surprised to learn how frequently those employees are required to join a union and what the union does for them. Not only were they paid more than minimum wage (I wanna say they started around $10/hr, and minimum wage was $7 at the time), they also had pretty consistent schedules/hours, regular raises, etc.–meaning they definitely ended up making more over the long term.

                  (I know you were speaking generally and not specifically about grocery clerks, I just think it’s interesting how very different it can be to work different low-wage jobs.)

                3. Jesmlet*

                  @fposte: It’s incredible how poorly the industry treats the people who care for their parents. No offense to food service workers but I think it’s absolutely ridiculous that home health aides who are responsible for the health and well-being of the elderly make a median of $10/hour whereas a decent waiter makes more than that when you factor in the tips (yes, I’ve had a food service job)

                  @peachie: Yes, unions make a world of difference but I’m guessing it would be nearly impossible to unionize restaurant workers unfortunately

                4. fposte*

                  @Jesmlet–yeah, I’d rather see less tipping culture rather than more, but in the mean time it sure is unequally applied.

                  (I forgot about the personal services industry, though–tipping stylists. That’s a big non-food tip culture.)

                5. Jesmlet*

                  @fposte: Same, but I’d feel weird about not tipping the lady that’s holding a pair of scissors up to my hair, or the dude holding a needle to my skin, etc. But with that stuff, there’s also a huge gulf in quality between the best and the worst so I feel like the tip is justified for a job well done.

                6. Kj*

                  Yes, as someone who worked in childcare in my early career, I was always surprised that everyone talked about how hard waitstaff had it, but no one thought of childcare workers as having it hard, even though they are chronically underpaid. I always tip 15-20% of course, but I do think it is odd that we tip waitstaff because they are so underpaid, but don’t tip other workers who are also underpaid (in my area, waitstaff all make at least minimum wage, which is higher than the standard minimum wage for the country). Childcare workers are usually paid minimum wage and don’t get any tips. They also deal with some gross stuff and good workers work hard to help the kids they work with learn and grow. Yet the most I ever got when I worked there was a hot chocolate package and holiday card from a parent….. Not that they owed me, but it was notable as well. I have empathy for waitstaff, but sometimes have to bite my tongue when friends who waited tables talk about how hard it was and how little they were paid…and they made more than I did working with someone’s kids, cleaning up vomit, blood, doing first-aid and generally making sure kids didn’t die.

              2. Kate 2*

                Thank you! As a former retail person who earned minimum wage, which *definitely* wasn’t a living wage. The special way food servers get treated tends to irritate me. Why do they deserve better treatment than retail workers? At big box stores, retail workers are prohibited from accepting tips, but at small stores why don’t people tip their retail workers? It honestly confuses me.

                1. Perse's Mom*

                  Because in most places in the US, food service pays just over $2/hr and tips have to make up the difference (but often don’t, because the industry is apparently rife with places that ignore the law or short their employees to their own benefit).

                  Retail workers (I have been there, too) make at least state/federal minimum wage.

                2. M*

                  It doesn’t have to be either or though. Everybody should be paid living wages. People here aren’t saying that food service workers deserve special treatment. They’re acknowledging that the minimum wage for servers is well under the minimum wage for everybody else and tips are needed to make up the difference. Ideally food service workers, retail workers, health care workers, childcare workers, etc. would all get paid well.

                3. AMPG*

                  People seem to be talking about two different things – living wages and minimum wage. Servers get tipped because their compensation model is such that the tips are intended to pay the bulk of their wages, not to supplement them. That’s a problematic model on its own, but it’s not the same as the problem of minimum wages not being a living wage in most places in the U.S.

          2. New Girl*


            Maybe I’m in the minority here but I always tip 20% at sit down places and 10-15% for counter take-out/delivery people. If I don’t have the money to fully tip, I either don’t get food or go somewhere like Chipotle or one of the take out meals from the supermarket/deli. I’ve had to work in the service industry before , so I try to pay it forward by tipping well and being (mostly) pleasant.

            Maybe someday wages in the industry will be different, but for now it is what it is!

            1. Rebecca in Dallas*

              That’s how I tip as well. At a sit-down restaurant, the server is checking on you multiple times throughout the meal, refilling drinks, etc. Also, they usually have to split tips with the bussers and hostesses, who also contributed to my meal by making sure my table was cleaned up before and after I sat there.

              Delivery people certainly deserve a tip, as they make sure my order is correct and gets it to me in a timely fashion, but I don’t tip as high as I would at a sit-down restaurant.

          3. Super Anon for This*

            I don’t believe anyone said they stiff the service people, just that they don’t like the current system.

            1. fposte*

              Yeah, I tip plenty, but I think the system is bad for everybody and the justifications aren’t logical; I just don’t think it’s going away any time soon.

        3. Anion*

          I’ve been a waitress and a bartender. None of the places I’ve ever worked could afford to pay its employees outright what we’d normally earn in tips, while still being able to earn a profit selling their food and drinks at exorbitant prices.

          Here in the US, wait staff are expected to be more efficient and friendly than indifferent and barely tolerating you, and (IMO) part of that is because they know their pay depends on it.

          I dunno, I get really tired of seeing complaints about the practice of tipping. I don’t think I’m being “put in” some kind of bad situation by allowing me to reward people individually for a job well done. In my opinion, I pay the cost of the food, and I’m willing to pay extra for the extra work the server is doing to make my whole dining experience pleasant and relaxing–I don’t think the $10 I paid for my entree should cover my server’s salary, too, because that seems frankly really cheap to me. I don’t expect servers to trot around fetching my (free) drink refills, bringing me ketchup or steak sauce, bringing plates for sharing and take-out containers for leftovers, answering questions about the food, bringing my kid a new spoon when she drops one, clearing away my dirty used plates and silverware, etc. etc., all while smiling and being friendly and welcoming, for a few bucks an hour.


      2. Sam*

        This is how it works in my office, too – it’s a personal delivery, so you’re technically responsible for it yourself. If that were not the case, I’m fairly confident that our long-time receptionist would straight up refuse to make the transaction on behalf of those who didn’t tip, and I don’t think management would object given the circumstances.

      3. Detective Amy Santiago*


        I would start calling people down and saying “your delivery is here, please come and pay for it” and make them do it themselves.

        1. The Other Dawn*

          I agree. I don’t see why that wouldn’t be an option. Maybe there’s a reason why they don’t do that, but it seems like that would be the easiest thing to do and wouldn’t put the OP in that awkward position.

        2. thisiswater*

          This may not work because they may not be able to get to the receptionist’s office at that time. If they’re on a call or in a meeting it might be a while before they can respond

    4. Natalie*

      I think I would probably just acknowledge it to the delivery people, it doesn’t feel awkward to me. I probably wouldn’t go with my first instinct, which is “they’re just jerk, sorry” I suppose.

  5. Mes*

    #4 – I have a disability that makes using my hands very difficult. It’s sweet of you to fill out forms for your boyfriend. I’m sure he appreciates it. It would be pretty weird for an employer to question his handwriting, I think, so keep doing what you’re doing.

  6. nnn*

    Another policy option for #2 (depending on context and personalities) is to allow people to telework on a trial basis, but require a certain productivity level to maintain one’s teleworking rights. If an employee doesn’t achieve the desired productivity, their telework agreement is rescinded.

    This would incentivize productivity without penalizing those who find it difficult to be productive in the office environment or after a three-hour commute but would be far more productive in the peace and quiet of home. Plus it creates a framework that allows good workers to continue teleworking even if some slackers start slacking off and ruining it for everyone.

    1. Floundering Mander*

      I’ve never been at a job that does teleworking but this seems like the right solution to me. If it works for the company to have some people work remotely, why do they need to treat everyone that does so as a single entity and rescind teleworking for everyone if just one person slacks off? It seems like you’d be able to tell that Martha does all her work on time and to standard working from home, but Fred tends to get distracted unless he’s in the office.

      1. Jeanne*

        It happens because that’s how bad managers operate. It’s too hard to tell Joe he can’t come in late everyday because he’ll complain and be difficult. So they tell everyone that they can never be late again for any reason. Same with the work at home.

        1. bookish*

          Yup, it’s silly for the managers to be wary of letting people work from home just because they’re afraid of conflict. If someone has issues with productivity they should be addressing that. They can also be clear that they review telecommuting on a case by case basis and it’s a privilege that can be taken away if someone’s productivity level doesn’t hold to the same standards as it would in the office. Also at my office you have to work there a certain number of years before you’re even considered for telecommuting, which probably helps weed out people who would be less productive. And of course they can always be clear that some people have responsibilities that are more compatible with working from home, while others don’t.

        2. NotAnotherManager!*

          Or it’s because HR or your employment lawyer doesn’t want the hassle of having to make qualitative decisions about it because getting sued is expensive, even if you win.

          I am very close to getting a telecommuting pilot program for one of my teams (it’s not a good match with the other team’s responsibilities, nearly all of which require physical presence), but it’s been an uphill slog because we are not able to offer the same benefit to many other workers due to the differences in the nature of their jobs.

    2. Natalie*

      But this is a management team that isn’t comfortable telling an employee that they don’t perform highly enough to get to telework. There’s no reason to think they are going to be more comfortable having the same conversation two months later, especially when it involve revoking a privilege rather than simply not granting one.

      1. Perse's Mom*

        Yep. In this case, they’re far better off setting standards to earn the privilege. Mediocre employees in an office setting and likely to be less than mediocre in a home environment with all its additional distractions*.

        *I know there are people who are actually more productive at home, but I would bet those people are solid employees even in the office and stepping up to be great while at home.

    3. Lily Rowan*

      That’s basically how my job does it — all flexible arrangements are on a trial basis for the first 90 days or whatever (including shifting your scheduled hours or working some amount of time from home), and they are very clear that they are not universally allowed, but only where it benefits the employer, basically.

  7. JC Denton*

    #3, I have to disagree with Alison here. Asking, “everything okay,” just strikes me as really passive aggressive. If it’s the first time being ~ten minutes late or the first time in a long, long time – just nod and let it go. If it happens repeatedly, then I’d ask what’s up. Full disclosure: I might be irked by that phrasing because it was oft used by an old boss who was habitually late himself. I had a flat tire one day, called ahead to say I was going to be late, and he still asked if, “everything was okay at home,” and whether I was getting enough sleep at night. There was a mighty strong urge to reply, “pot calling kettle.”

    1. Cambridge Comma*

      I also wondered whether students new to paid work would pick up on the inherent disapproval in the question.
      How about ‘As long as it’s a one-off!’, said cheerfully?

      1. GermanGirl*

        Yeah, better be a bit more direct with people new to the workforce.

        My professor once said to me about something unprofessional like that: “You know, you can do that here if you want. I just want you to be aware that this would be considered very unprofessional almost anywhere else.”

        I really appreciated the heads up.

        1. alanna*

          I love this wording, and am going to use it often in my (very, very casual) workplace with interns and young staff who aren’t always up to speed on office norms.

      2. Lionheart26*

        I wondered the same. If you are clueless enough to not realise that punctuality is important, you’re probably not going to pick up on a subtlety like that.

      3. DogLibrarian*

        OP here – I see your point, and I think it would be effective with some but not all of the students. I spend enough time with them that I can figure which ones would pick up on subtlety/which ones need plain talk. Good suggestion for alternative phrasing.

    2. Bookworm*

      It can be passive-aggressive, sure. But I think the reason Alison is advocating for it here is that you don’t want to come out of the gate swinging if there is a reasonable explanation for the tardiness.

      I read this more as an opening to a dialogue, as in:
      “Everything OK?”
      “Yeah, I just overslept.”
      “Ok, well punctuality is necessary for coverage, so let’s keep this a one-time thing”….or whatever.

      Particularly if the employees are young and new to the workforce, they might not be cognizant of needing to bring up personal issues that could affect their work. If the answer is “no, I’m late because of [insert personal reason]” then perhaps the manager will want to work out or discuss reasonable accommodations.

      1. Fiennes*

        Exactly. The question is sincere rather than disingenuous. You don’t want to chirp “as long as it’s a one-off!” if the student ran late because they learned of a friend’s death that morning/witnessed the aftermath of a gruesome accident/etc. To me that would come across as SO much more passive aggressive than asking if somebody’s okay.

        1. Portia*

          I agree. Also, “Everything okay?” serves as a gentle prompt for an explanation, which it sounds like these employees aren’t giving. There’s a big difference between “I’m sorry I’m late; my car had a flat and I had to wait for Triple A” vs. just “I’m sorry I’m late.” And this should reinforce that they shouldn’t be late unless there’s a good reason for it.

    3. Jeanne*

      I think it’s worth being honest. “Why are you late so often?” Students are different as employees when it’s at the college. It might be a lack of knowledge of what to do at work. But it could also be that their math prof never lets them out on time. Teach them how to be good employees and what a good manager is.

      1. JB (not in Houston)*

        Alison isn’t suggesting using the “everything ok” line if a person is often late, though. It’s for the first time a worker is late.

    4. HannahS*

      I think if it’s in the first few times that someone’s late, a nod + some verbal acknowledgement, (“Hi Jane” or “Glad you made it” or “Pull up a chair”) + transition back to meeting (“We’re on page 43” or “We’re discussing the quarterly reports”) should do. You can always catch them privately on the way out and give a “I know unexpected disasters happen occasionally, but as a rule you need to be here on time” without making a big deal of asking them into your office, if you feel having a discussion about it would be overkill.

      1. Murphy*

        I think “Glad you made it” is pretty passive aggressive.

        Also, I think there’s a difference between being late for a meeting and being late to sit at your desk (assuming your work is not time dependent, and the usual caveats).

        1. HannahS*

          What’s seen as passive aggressive all depends on delivery and region. Where I am, ‘glad you’re here’ isn’t the same as ‘weeeelll I’m glad you could joiiiin us.’ ‘Are you OK’ would come across as passive aggressive to me, while ‘Pull up a chair’ could easily come off as really rude. But the point is that OP has a lot of options and can choose based on her own local lingo and personal ability to not sound abrupt, sarcastic, or insincere.

          1. JulieBulie*

            Right (about delivery and region). To me, “Glad you could make it” says “I noticed you were late and wasn’t sure if you were coming in,” but that sounds like a neutral comment to me.

            The passive-aggressive version, in my experience, is when you show up at 9:10 am and are greeted with “WELL, good afternoon!”

    5. Allison*

      I agree, while I like acknowledging that something outside the employee’s control may have prevented them from being on time, or something came up at home like a last-minute roommate scuffle, “everything okay” usually sounds coded. People aren’t stupid, and many people can detect passive aggression even if you have plausible deniability.

      I’d rather OP say something like “it happens, but don’t make a habit of it” or “once is no big deal, but try not to let it happen again.” I agree with the OP that saying “it’s okay” as a default response to an apology, when something is definitely not okay, is a bad idea and could send the wrong message.

      1. JB (not in Houston)*

        Ok, but just about any comment can be passive-aggressive depending on who is saying it and how. Asking if everything is ok the first time someone is late can be you being passive-aggressive, if that’s how you mean it. But it can also be you coming at it from a standpoint of assuming they wouldn’t be late without a reason. And it gives them a chance to explain without you immediately taking them to task for something for which they might actually have a good reason. It’s a gentle way of bringing up a topic in a way that does what Alison often says a good manager should do in cases where it appears the employee has done something you need to address with them–get more information before automatically telling them they are doing something wrong.

        1. DogLibrarian*

          OP here – I agree with all of this. Oftentimes, we’ve found that “everything is not okay” when the students are late: they’re sick, or they had a big roommate problem, or their professor sat them down for a talk. I think part of the reason I couldn’t come up with this solution on my own was that “Is everything okay?” is a loaded question for me personally, *when I’m upset.* It’s usually the phrase that, more than anything else, opens the flood gates if there’s been a trauma in my life (pet dying, break-up, etc.).

          That being said, I still think it’s a great opener to a conversation to assess the situation and respond accordingly.

          1. JB (not in Houston)*

            That is a good point about how it might affect a person when they are upset. I hadn’t thought about it, but if the reason I’m late is something I’m upset about, asking me about it could trigger an emotional response. But like you, I still think it’s a good opener.

    6. Erin*

      I work with a lot of first time workers and it does work. It helps to figure out if this worker is just irresponsible and always tardy or there was something that was a once in a while thing. They try to sneak in and hope their boss doesn’t notice. I notice because I’m usually waiting on that person to take my break.
      They don’t know to call ahead if something beyond their control that is making them late. This let’s them know that hey we’re not jerks if shit happens once in awhile, but it can’t be a habit either.

    7. Turquoise Cow*

      I think it depends on tone and history. If an otherwise stellar employee comes in ten minutes late after working there for several years and the boss says, “Everything ok?” in a concerned tone – well, it might be actual concern. Subtext being something like, “you’re never late! Was there an emergency? Major traffic accident?”

      If a guy who’s been there for a week and seems very casual about his work comes in ten minutes late, an “Everything okay?” the first time implies that “no, it’s not okay to be late,” as well as “I noticed that you’re late, it is a thing I care about,” without making a big deal over it. Maybe it’s enough to push the employee to work harder to get there on time, maybe it’s not. But it’s putting them on notice, so to speak.

      After the lateness becomes a repeated thing, you might say it with a sarcastic tone, and that would be passive aggressive. The better thing to do would be to pull them aside and f a) find out if everything is actually ok (maybe there’s something else going on, personally) and b) have the more serious “you can’t be late” talk.

      Most people with work/school/life experience learn that it’s customary and polite to not be late to things, whether it’s work, class, or a casual get together with friends. Those people will be made aware with a simple “everything ok?” Some people don’t, and those people will need a bigger talking-to. But you need to give the first group a chance to be in the first group before you assume they’re in the second.

    8. JulieBulie*

      It occurs to me that some people consider lateness as passive-aggressive, too. I don’t necessarily agree with this – I’d say habitual lateness might be p-a, but occasional lateness is just life. Just the same, I had an employer who really did ascribe malice to every tardiness, which made the ensuing conversation a minefield of passive aggression (and sometimes aggressive aggression).

      But I don’t see how “everything okay” can be considered passive-aggressive. Certainly it is more direct to simply ask why someone was late – but that encourages people to offer excuses that you don’t need to hear. You don’t want to know why they were late. You want to know if there was a problem you should be aware of, and you want to signal that they really shouldn’t be late unless there’s a serious problem.

      I see “everything okay?” as shorthand for this. Is it really necessary to spell it out? (That’s not a rhetorical question… I’m really asking. Maybe it is truly necessary to spell it out with a new worker.)

      1. Chameleon*

        Ugh…I have mental health issues that make it *really* hard to be exactly on time (for various reasons) and the amount of people who think that I’m doing it to be rude or controlling or passive-aggressive. NO for god’s sake, my being late is not about you, and the 10 minutes you had to spend looking at your phone is not going to ruin your day.

        1. Laura*

          I can’t imagine why anyone would think you were being rude! You sound so reasonable and ready to see the other person’s point of view.

    1. LadyL*

      Yup! As Gadfly mentioned upthread, regular minimum wage doesn’t apply to waitstaff. In the state I’m from regular minimum wage is $8.90/hr, and for waitstaff it’s only $3.38/hr. And that’s up, when I was a waitress a few years back it was $2.40/hr. When deciding the appropriate wage, the law takes into account the tips and assume that tips make up the difference so an employer doesn’t have to. So basically your money is already an assumed acquisition, and if you take it away you’re really screwing over the waitstaff. And yes, it’s a pretty terrible system.

      1. nonegiven*

        Don’t forget the tip out
        (An amount or percentage of a server’s tips that the server shares, either voluntarily or as mandated in a tip sharing or tip pooling agreement, with other employees such as bussers, bartenders, back waiters and host/hostesses whose job duties indirectly assist the server.)

      2. Jman4l*

        What if this was a city with an extremely high minimum wage? I would have trouble tipping a delivery person making 15 per hour if I was an hourly making 20

        1. Jeanne*

          If you can’t tip, don’t order delivery. They have to use their own car, gas, repairs, etc to get you that food. Most delivery fees go to the restaurant, not the driver. For better or worse the tips help them survive.

            1. blackcat*

              Everyone I know tips less in San Fransisco (particularly when compared to other Bay Area cities) for this reason. No tipped minimum wage + high minimum wage (will rise to $15 next year) + health insurance surcharge = lower tips.

              Still works out the same overall, in general, but a couple of my friends who live in SF grumble about tipping 20% when they go to the east bay.

              (Also, to jman4l’s point, I tend to see that folks who earn the less are more likely to tip *more.* They’re more likely to have worked tipped jobs before and know the value of those tips.)

    2. JamieS*

      It’s still optional. If someone doesn’t make minimum wage after tips the employer has to pay the difference so nobody is making below the higher minimum wage if they are stiffed on a tip. Course given tipping is so pervasive a tipped employee won’t be an employee for long if she regularly doesn’t make minimum wage in tips but that’s a different matter. Also IIRC
      the minimum wage was set lower because of the tipping custom, the tipping custom wasn’t created because of lower minimum wage.

      Course none of that justifies not tipping for good service. I don’t like the tipping custom either but I recognize the expectation of tipping. However I’m strongly opposed to the notion a patron is somehow obligated to tip regardless of service quality because servers “make below minimum wage”.

      OP, sending an email reminding everyone they’re responsible for covering the tip on their lunch is likely your only recourse. Some may be under the impression the company covers the tip (stipend separate from tip), may not know delivery people are also expected to be tipped. Also even if they know they’re supposed to tip but don’t, I think most will feel compelled to tip if it’s known the lack of tip has been noticed.

      1. Mookie*

        Also IIRC
        the minimum wage was set lower because of the tipping custom, the tipping custom wasn’t created because of lower minimum wage.

        That’s not true in the US, no. Widespread practice of tipping predates the federal minimum wage, was largely a result of Prohibition laws and other regulations (not related to payroll) that ate into revenue, and originated in a era where waitstaff had been earning comparatively decent and certainly competitive wages.

        My objection to the tip credit scheme is that it fails to provide tipped employees with a standard and predictable income, something few Americans (barring those in temporary and seasonal work) are forced to experience and for good reason. Even if one is making more than minimum wage, fluctuations in weekly wages make it difficult to plan ahead, save responsibly, invest safely, and survive major upheavals and medical emergencies. Waitstaffing is regular work, even if the shifts rotate, but it’s not treated as such, nor are waitstaff treated as employees who can learn, grow, and improve performance in a way that can be reliably rewarded; instead, they must rely on fickle guests and employers who violate the spirit in which the tip credit has been formalized through law by interfering with tips. When waitstaff are hired, they expect this tacit agreement will be honored. It should always outrage good people when that agreement is shirked, in a country where many people are already teetering on the edge between serious financial insecurity and out-and-out homelessness.

      2. Mookie*

        Also, you mentioned “good service” and “service quality” but that is exactly what doesn’t happen in tipped environments:

        Studies have shown that tipping is not an effective incentive for performance in servers. It also creates an environment in which people of color, young people, old people, women, and foreigners tend to get worse service than white males.

        To hear them say it themselves, customers who resent restaurants that go tipless admit that they view tips as a way of exerting power over and punishing waitstaff.

      3. assistant to the district manager*

        In my state, the employers is only obligated to pay the difference if the worker’s *entire paycheck* averages out to less than minimum wage over the whole pay period (usually 2 weeks)

        1. JamieS*

          That’s still making at least minimum wage. If your state’s minimum wage is $10 (for easy math) and the server works 20 hours they’re guaranteed $200 in gross income for that pay period. If they don’t make $200 with their regular income and tips the employer has to pay the difference.

      4. Antilles*

        I mentioned this in another thread further down, but the “employer pays the difference” might be the law, but I’ve never actually heard a reliable story of it ever actually occurring. Far more commonly, if it’s a slow night/week, the manager just shrugs and says “sucks to be you”*, then you just hope for a good next shift.
        *Depending on the manager, this same sentiment might be phrased more politely…but saying it just that rudely isn’t unheard of.

    3. JamieS*

      Yes minimum wage is lower because of tipping but the employer has to cover the difference if tips don’t bring the wage up to the higher minimum wage.

      1. Jeanne*

        They only have to make it match minimum wage for the week. So if someone has a good Saturday that averages out the losses from Wednesday and they basically work some days for free or pay to work those days. Tips are assumed to be 10% of the check when calculating. A few no-tips and the waitress is paying taxes on earnings she never got. (I don’t explain it as well as some but a quick search will turn up a good explanation.)

    4. Blue Bird*

      Are there differences between tipping in a restaurant vs. tipping for take-out or a delivery? Do you usually tip the same amount?

      1. Zip Silver*

        Standard is to tip a dollar for every mile they drive. If you go pick up take out then you don’t have to tip at all.

        1. Bette*

          I’ve never heard this rule. I live in a huge urban area and often order delivery from a place that’s less than a mile away. I’m certainly not tipping 75 cents! Just pay 20% as usual.

        2. Owl*

          That is not a standard. That *might* work in certain suburbs, but you’d be stiffing delivery people in urban areas.

        3. J*

          Yeah, I’ve never heard that one.

          We’re pretty inconsistent about how much we tip on delivery, but it is never 20%. Though, really, we avoid delivery unless the weather is awful. In those cases, we tip according to how much the weather sucks.

        4. JamieS*

          I’ve wondered about that. For pickup orders, I’ve always assumed it’s customary to leave a small tip as a gratuity for things like the server ensuring you have everything you need (salad dressing, utensils, etc.), making sure your order is correct and fresh, having it ready to go as quickly as possible to minimize your wait time, etc. I know it’s a smaller tip than the standard for dine in but I assumed that if the pickup went smoothly the etiquette was a couple dollars with $1 being the minimum.

          Never heard of the $1/mile standard. I thought it started off based on the check and then you tossed in a little extra if you live in the boonies.

    5. TL -*

      Just to be clear, delivery people, in my experience, are paid minimum wage. Not tipped minimum wage.
      (Some places have their waitstaff deliver but they tend to be really small places.)

      1. PatPat*

        Delivery drivers in my area are paid minimum wage but they have to drive their own cars, buy their own gas, and pay for their own car insurance. My daughter used to pick up delivery shifts at the restaurant she worked at just as a favor to the owner because she actually made a lot more money working as a server in the same restaurant. She said most people are pretty stingy with tips for delivery people. Her restaurant was very protective of its people, though and added in a service charge to each delivery order and gave it to the delivery person for gas. So even if the delivery person is making minimum wage they’re really making less than that when you deduct their expenses so you need to tip!

        1. The Other Kate*

          I worked in pizza delivery for about half a year, and the business charged a service fee for delivery as well but kept it! We still had to pay for our own cars, gas, and insurance. And the worst part was, that often delivery customers wouldn’t tip because of the $2 delivery fee, so I wouldn’t get anything. I did get paid minimum wage though, but I bet some days I ended up barely breaking even. This was also in a very rural area where deliveries were often 15+ minutes one way and 10+ miles (sometimes up to 25 miles).

    6. MK*

      I am also not from the U.S., and from a country where tipping is usually “keep the change”, and the U.S. system is incomprehensible to me. And for a tourist it can be a nightmare: Last year I visited the U.S. and, because I was aware that the system was different and tipping was part of these workers compensation (mainly because of reading AAM), I thought I was on top of this. Then I came home and reviewed my credit card statements and realised that, between 3 hotels, 20 restaurants/coffee shops/etc. visits and numerous taxi rides, my tips varied from as little as 10% (which I ‘ve been told is inadequate generally and in NY/Boston especially) to as much as 35%! But I suppose people who are used to this system their whole lives can give the appropriate amount automatically.

      1. ShellBell*

        “incomprehensible” Seriously? Read up on the customs of the vountry you are visiting and use a calculator. There is one on every smart phone.

          1. TL -*

            It is perfectly comprehensible in the USA – like many cultural things, it makes plenty of sense in the country where it’s practiced as a custom. (Though MK’s comment was perfectly appropriate for a tourist to make!)

          2. Bette*

            A lot of other countries’ rules don’t make sense to me–no chewing gum in Singapore, no flushing the toilet after a certain time in Switzerland–but I comply because that’s what you do when you’re in someone else’s country. And I don’t whinge about it online, except to make a point.

            1. MK*

              I was making a point. Which was that, although I did research the custom beforehand and make a good-faith effort to to comply, it’s a very difficult system to navigate for someone who isn’t used to iy. Also, it’s disingenuous to compare simple prohibitions “these things are not appropriate in X country, even if you don’t understand why, so don’t do them” with “every time you receive a service (but not all services), you must calculate the proper tip (which varies), in a foreign country and language, with currency you are unaccustomed to, while being exhausted from traveling and sightseeing or getting a migraine from the leftover jetlag/climate change, being extra on guard for pickpockets, simlpy losing your stuff and not getting into other types of trouble, trying to remember directions and museum opening times”. If you think that’s whining, so be it.

        1. Try Try Again*

          Read WHAT? I’ve tried Googling it before travelling, but there doesn’t appear to be a nationally-agreed US code of conduct for tipping anywhere. It varies from city to city, state to state and coast to coast. Hence, incomprehensible!

          My last US trip I went from NYC to Boston to New Orleans to San Francisco. None of these cities treated tipping in the same way. I was constantly confused and frustrated by the tipping situation. If I could have avoided eating out I would have, just to skip the tip issue.

          1. TL -*

            15-20% at a restaurant is pretty standard (20% is preferable if higher cost of living area)
            10% for anything else is a good rule of thumb (taxi drivers, delivery, hair stylists, ect…). Anything between 10-20% is probably good. Yes, people are all going to have different opinions on what is the “right” percentage, exactly, but if you’re in that range, you’re not likely to shock the people you’re tipping.

          2. Mal the College Student(Again)*

            Yeah there isn’t an agreed upon appropriateness – I grew up in California, which does not have a “waiter wage” all restaurant severs/hosts/waiters are paid minimum wage(which at the time I moved out of CA was something like $8.50 an hour) but tipping 15-20% was still expected.
            Now I live in the Midwest(specifically Kansas and Missouri over the last six years) and there IS a “waiter wage” – I’m not sure what it is in MO but when I was in Kansas it was less than $3 and hour and 15-20% was still the expected tip range.
            If I’m getting a drink at a bar, like a glass of wine or a beer, I tip $1 per drink.
            If I order a meal online and pick it up, I don’t tip.
            When out at a sit down restaurant I generally tip 18%.
            Also, even if the service is terrible, it’s frowned upon not to tip in the US.
            And people will disagree about the amount I’m saying is appropriate, BUT most people will never comment on your tip amount when out to eat with others because people in the US hate talking about money and how each of us should spend it.
            Oh the irony.
            Best of luck to anyone from a non-tipping country who vacations in the US! ;)

          3. CheeryO*

            Just go with 20% everywhere in the future. No one is going to be upset with a 20% tip, even in a big city/high COL area. Take 10% of the pre-tax total and double it. I usually round up to the nearest whole number just to avoid math mistakes, but I don’t think it matters.

      2. Blue Bird*

        When I visited the US, I would sometimes get receipts in which the blank space for the tip had been underlined (in one case even hightlighted!). They did not seem to have made the best experiences with tourists from my country, haha.

        Or that was just a personal thing and I look like a notoriously bad tipper. :-(

      3. SJPxo*

        MK – As an English person don’t even get me started on tipping. I really wish the US would just pay their food workers a living wage and stop putting people in the situation of having to tip them. Here in the UK tips are given for going above and beyond on service, it’s not a ‘given’ we’d receive one and believe me I’ve worked as service staff. It’s like, I paid for the food and the cost of that food should include the cost of the service staff in my opinion.

        1. Jesca*

          Meh. Honestly for as many services who wish they were paid a wage, you have just as many who like the status quo as they can make a lot more than what the company would ever pay them in even in a dream world. It is the way it works – good or bad.

          Is it right? It depends on which server you ask!

      4. Zip Silver*

        An easy way to figure a tip without doing too much math is to take the amount of sales tax on the bill and double it. In my state that puts you around 16%, which is acceptable to leave for alright service.

        1. Blue Bird*

          That sounds like a solid tip.

          *badum tish*

          ….I’ll walk myself out.

          Seriously though, that’s good advice.

          1. Bette*

            Sales tax differs from state to state–I definitely don’t think you can rely on this method unless you’re okay with undertipping (which I think 16% is). A better way is to move the decimal one place to the left, and multiply by 2. That gives you 20%.

            1. Blue Bird*

              Waiiiit… 16% is undertipping? I thought 15% would be pretty acceptable. I thought 10% was undertipping.

        2. Ramona Flowers*

          Oh and the sales tax, don’t get me started on that. Over here the number on the price tag includes sales tax. America baffled me so much with this.

          1. Oryx*

            Sales tax is the US is usually some combination of state, county, and/or city taxes. There is virtually no way to include the total price on the price tag without printing out individual price tags for every single item in every single location.

            For instance, I can go to the Target down the street from me and buy a pair of $20. I happen to live in the county with the highest sales tax in our state, which is 8%, making those shoes $21.6. I can cross the county line half a mile down the road and buy the same $20 pair of shoes there and because the sales tax is only 7%, those shoes will be a total of $21.4.

            My state has 88 counties in it, and while there is some overlap among sales tax, that would be 88
            individual price tags for the same $20 pair of shoes at every Target store just in my state.

        3. Jwal*

          That’s a good rule to remember, thank you!

          Over here (my bit of the UK) 10% seems to be standard so I could see myself forgetting and offending someone.

    7. Mt*

      Its very location dependant. In oregon all tipped employees get an hourly wage atleast at the minimum wage + tips, which means they make $9.75+ tips. Also delivery drivers have to be provided a vehicle for deliveries.

  8. GermanGirl*

    OP4: For filling out forms that I just don’t want to fill by hand (not because I can’t but because I want to make sure it’s readable or I want to keep a copy on my computer), I like to use Xournal, which is a tool from the open source software community that lets you put writing anywhere on any PDF. It also runs on Windows and Linux (I don’t know about Mac but wouldn’t be surprised if it runs on Mac too).

    So you’d scan the forms, print them to PDF and then write on the PDF with Xournal (or some other program, I bet Adobe has some that also work) and print them back out. Then just sign by hand.

  9. AlligatorTrainer*

    Re: “sorry for being late,” Would something like, “obviously I/we want you to be here on time, but it’s the first instance of you being late and I trust you to be on time in the future” be too much? It avoids “it’s ok” and in the right tone of voice could reinforce that you do trust the employee, if that’s the case. But maybe it’s stilted for some people. I could imagine myself saying it, unless the rest of you think it’s horrible phrasing…

      1. Mookie*


        I usually pretend it’s a kind of greeting, and reply “oh, hiya,” or words to that effect (because I loathe confrontation on points like these where I’m not actively supervising or managing the person but I need them to be on time), but this is how to do it. I’m starting tomorrow. :D

      2. Former Hoosier*

        But that makes it sounds as if being late is ok if you let the supervisor know and I don’t think that is the message she wants to send.

        1. Fiennes*

          Well, if it happens again, then you ask the student what’s up. If the answer is a valid reason for lateness, okay. If the answer is just mumbled nothing, that’s when you point out that they’ve failed to understand professional conduct.

        2. Perse's Mom*

          If it’s said disapprovingly, it should raise a flag for the employee that the boss is annoyed by them being late so maybe they should try harder to not be late and thus not irritate their boss.

          If the employee is oblivious enough that they take it to mean it’s fiiiiiiiiiiiiine if you’re late, let just me know! …well, after it’s happened a second time, the boss will have to be more explicit that they need to know about lateness for X reasons, but a requirement of their job is to be on time, etc.

    1. Tassie Tiger*

      For me, it would be far too much and leave me feeling humiliated.

      If you trust they will be on time in the future, there’s no need to say it. And if it’s obvious being on time is desired, there’s no need to say it. I feel that sometimes people need to be given permission to be human and make an error in time judgement. And, if the person acknowledges the error apologetically, by saying, “Sorry I’m late,” and quickly getting to work with their best effort, no action or words really need to be taken as long as it’s not a pattern.

      My dirty lens: I take punctuality extremely seriously and have been late only three or four times in three years. In the last two weeks due to stress, I’ve developed sleeping problems that caused me to sleep through my alarm and show up late. I quickly took initiative to pull the manager aside for a couple minutes to reiterate that I take it seriously and am working with my support team to get my sleep on track.

      1. AlligatorTrainer*

        That’s awesome that you did that. I teach adult learners, so my lens unfortunately is a lot of tardiness and not much I can say (and virtually no one on one time to discuss it discreetly!). So when someone walks in late and says sorry, I don’t want to embarrass them but also do want everyone to know it’s not actually “okay.”

    2. Jeanne*

      It’s too much I think. These are students in on campus jobs. It may be a first job. They may have been assigned rather than interviewed and hired (becase of financial aid packages). Just have a conversation. Ask questions, find out why. Then teach them. If it’s just the student being careless, teach her that it’s important to be on time and why. If the student can’t help it (class schedule), teach her how to be proactive, to come to you and explain the issue. The sorry sounds like how we always handled it when late from class to class. Prof 1 runs late, you go to class 2 and say a quick sorry to Prof 2 and sit down and get to work.

      1. Chocolate lover*

        Are there schools that assign? None of the schools I’ve gone to or worked at (in a higher ed professional), have ever assigned, even when students had work study related financial aid, which I did. Always had to interview and be offered the position. And you weren’t guaranteed to get one.

        1. Samata*

          When I was in college I was assigned my work study job in the Mathematics Departments Faculty Office. I went to the FA office and they told me where to report and I gave my supervisor my schedule.

          At both universities I worked at in my professional career we did interviews for our work study positions we were looking to fill. I am not sure if all departments did that or just us, since our students worked with perspective students as well.

  10. min*

    #4 – If scanning and typing isn’t an option, have you tried block printing in all caps? That type of handwriting tends to come across as more unisex, at least to me.

      1. Lars the Real Girl*

        I do it on forms too, because of the spelling of my name, and for clarity on addresses, etc, and especially for my email address but I’ve found over the years I’ve turned it into all caps except for – not really on purpose. So it’ll be I think at some point I assumed if they couldn’t deduce “gmail” they shouldn’t be emailing me anyways. Oops.

        1. OP4*

          I always write email addresses like that too! I fill out everything else in normal case, but emails are all caps except for the How funny

  11. Fire*

    #1, I used to work delivery in a zone that had a number of notoriously bad tip buildings and like… our manager was a hard*ss about Doing Deliveries In The Order Of The Tickets and we tried to be professional (even when getting screamed at by customers), but you can absolutely bet if there was any way for us to take other deliveries before the bad tip buildings we would absolutely do that. Oh noooo this delay definitely needs to go out right now no I can’t wait for that one, it’ll have to wait for the next rider. Well technically this bad tip came before this good tip buuuuuuuut they’re a block from each other so who’s gonna know?

    Now, all this might amount to a 15 minute delay at worse, but this is us trying our darndest within a strict set of rules. We were definitely an outlier in that regard. Other stores in our franchise did not bother to follow those strictest of those rules, and I’m sure other franchises/independents do the same. Your stores are probably in that subset. Just saying.

    (However, the sort of problems you’re going to get from this is probably just delays. If we “forget” something, then we have to redeliver it for no additional charge, and there is NO way I’m going to do that on purpose for a bad tip building.)

    1. MK*

      Ok, not-U.S. (and totally personal) perspective here: when I am in an office all day, it doesn’t generally matter all that much to me if the lunch I order at 11:30 arrives at 12 or 12:30 or even 1, I will take my break whenever the order comes.

      It’s one of the reasons I think this tipping system is dysfunctional: supposedly bad tippers will receive bad service, but in reality it doesn’t always work that way, because some of the things considered “good service” (fastness, friendliness) are not equally valued by everyone. I had heard more than one time from Americans that “in Europe you don’t have to tip (much), but the service is not great”; then I visited the U.S. and found many of the staples of “great service” annoying.

      1. TL -*

        Bad tippers generally don’t receive bad service (unless you’re a regular, but even then, you’ll usually go regularly to a place you like. Half the reason I paid for people at my favorite brunch place was to control the tip, though!)
        The theory is that good service receives good tips, not the other way around.

        but yes, waitstaff behavior in America does reflect American cultural norms and values :)

        1. Antilles*

          The theory is that good service receives good tips, not the other way around.
          This theory is flat out bullcrap by the way.
          1.) Academics have done studies on this and found that there’s absolutely a gender, racial, and attractiveness element involved – female servers make more than male, white servers make more than minorities (unless you’re in an ethnic restaurant, where it actually goes the other way), etc.
          2.) The things that people call ‘bad service’ often have jack squat to do with the actual server. If your food order was wrong, it’s often the kitchen’s fault. If they’re out of what you ordered, the owner messed up the planning. If the server takes a longer-than-usual time, it’s usually because the manager misjudged the staffing and forced your server to cover too many tables. So your small tip for ‘bad service’ is punishing the wrong people.
          3.) The server isn’t learning any lesson about their service from your tip because unless you’re a regular, the server has absolutely zero reference to what your tip means. Tipping 15% could mean anything from “great service” (from someone who rarely tips at all), “average, whatever” (from someone who always tips 15%) to even “wow, that was kinda bad” (from someone who typically tips 20+%). Unless there was an obvious screw-up like dumping soup in your lap, the server won’t really draw any conclusions about it because they have no way to tell what your tip means.
          4.) This rationale is weirdly only applied to pure service professions, despite the fact that customer service is a huge attribute of most (possibly *all*) jobs. If your dentist makes a mistake, you could literally be dealing with that for the rest of your entire life; yet I’ll bet you’ve never even thought about “hm, maybe I should tip him to ensure that he doesn’t mess up”. Office workers don’t get their pay cut because they were in a bad mood Friday and were a jerk to people. And so on.
          I’ll get off my soapbox now.

          1. Mike C.*

            It’s amazing to read the accounts of restaurants in the US who have banned tipping and the complaints management receives from patrons who wish to have some control over the wages of the people who serve them. They never have problems with the service or the food, it’s the lack of control.

              1. fposte*

                It’s not just the patrons; the staff often doesn’t like it either. (I suspect the sort of restaurant that goes no-tip is especially likely to be the sort of restaurant where servers can make decent bank from tips.) Links in followup.

                1. CMart*

                  I’ve been out of food & bev for just over a year, and I was getting very nervous about the slow tide of restaurants paying their service staff $15/hr and discouraging tipping.

                  Like, that’s cool and all, and from what I understand the median annual income for servers in the US is around $18k/yr (I assume due to the nature of being part time work, but still) so it would likely be beneficial to a lot of waitstaff. But I was working as a bartender at a place where that would absolutely have been a significant pay cut. And your instinct is right: it’s the successful, trendier, often more expensive restaurants that can afford to do that, which is also where the service staff make out like bandits with tips.

                2. zora*

                  There are a couple of places I go to in SF that have switched to no-tipping, and from the people I’ve talked to the staff like it. But it’s because the point of doing it was because the owners want to pay their staff a living wage (all staff, including dishwashers, etc) and because they are also offering health care, paid time off, etc. The people who work there are happy with the trade off from being able to bust their ass and make bank on a specific night, to having a more reliable amount of income and good benefits, not losing money if they get sick, etc.

                  I think it depends on the decision process behind it and how owners/management function.

                3. zora*

                  Ha, I should have clicked on the guardian link before I commented, because one of the places I was thinking of is listed in the article! It’s the one where every single staff member has stayed on since going to no tipping.

                  Also, in response to CMart, the examples I know of are very successful locations where a lot of staff are now getting a lot more than $15/hour, plus lots of very generous benefits. $15 is just the minimum or starting wage, like for a busser or dishwasher, but pay goes up from there and established serving staff or cooks are making way more than that, and mostly their take home is the same as when they were collecting tips.

          2. chchamy*

            Great summary of the issue. Thank you, Antilles.

            I will add a couple more.
            5.) Where tips are pooled, your tip doesn’t go directly to your server at all. Pooled tips eliminate the connection between a good server and higher pay. All the servers, good and bad, end up with the same amount of tip money at the end of the night.
            6.) Astronomically high tips are unfair to other servers. A friend of mine had Steve Jobs come into his restaurant. Jobs tipped $1000 on a bill <$500. He did not tip that amount because my friend was so much better than every other server ever; he tipped that amount because he is a celebrity. My friend, who maybe is in with the hostess, or was just lucky, got Jobs' table and Jobs' tip that night. Too bad to all the rest of the servers. (Note: At least pooling tips addresses this problem.)

      2. Fire*

        Not the case in this zone, at least. They definitely cared about their food getting there “freaky fast”, and if it was too late we’d get literally yelled at by the customer. Half an hour would be considered extremely late, and if temperatures were below zero delivery times could get as long as an hour and a half. If we hated the customer/office enough we’d deal with the yelling because f you, but like it was pretty rare we could arrange things in such a way their order was late enough for them to get THAT angry.

    2. MT*

      This is why people who hate tipping, hate tipping. Tipping just so people do their job, is not the point of tipping. I refuse to tip on any delivery till the entire delivery is made.

    3. August*

      Yes, exactly! If I were OP, I would definitely try to mention that fact that getting a reputation for tipping badly does affect the amount of time it takes for things to get there. When I worked delivery, buildings that were notorious for tipping badly were constantly passed off to unlucky/new drivers. We didn’t care if the office workers at that building got all huffy about their lukewarm food, because they consistently tipped less than 5% anyway (and that was on a good day! More often than not, they didn’t tip at all).

      It wasn’t necessarily a good or fair practice, but there were a ton of people there who were doing this for a living, and I didn’t (and still don’t) have much sympathy for people who refuse to do something that is, at this point, just basic human decency.

  12. Beezus*

    OP1: based on your COO’s response, I would suspect your co-workers are using the max of their stipends as they can because they feel under-compensated or undervalued in some way so they will use every and any perk to the max they can. This sounds like a top down morale issue, unfortunately, especially based on the COO being unwilling to let ppl know to build in a 10% tip ($18 food, $2 tip) or to have the company cover the tip which is actually more customary if you’re ordering food in.

    1. Beezus*

      Also have you asked a coworker you know we’ll about if they feel they should be building a tip into their order? When it’s been an in-house meal, again the company usually covers the tip + delivery fee + any taxes, so your co-workers might have NO idea. It’s not like they’re ordering delivery w/their own dime and you’re accepting the food and then being hit up for a tip they’re declining to pay.

      1. SusanIvanova*

        Another possibility – I’ve got a former coworker whose new job has that perk. They pick from three options that change each day, and there’s one restaurant on the rotation that frustrates him because only a few of their options are under the cutoff, and then only by a dollar or so. It’s really a poor choice of restaurant, though at least the company covers tip and delivery.

      1. Mookie*

        I always suspect, in these instances, that at some point in the past champagne tests got the better of higher-ups who abused company credit. $20 for some people would be an extravagance, but for others, a tweak on the nose. That may be what’s happening here.

    2. Torrance*

      If they feel under-compensated or undervalued, that might be a good starting place for the OP to frame the situation. Tipping is a fundamental part of the American food service industry. If they are being miserly with their tips, then they are just as bad, if not worse, than the company executives. If they feel like the company is taking money out of their pocket, then how could they possibly justify doing the same thing to someone else?

      1. Beezus*

        I suspect, see my comment on the next thread down, the employees are told the get X for lunch and are making the most of it. So if it’s a paid lunch every Tuesday and you can spend up to $20, ppl look at the menu and maximize their stipend. Reasonable companies cover delivery/tip/tax on these kinds of orders. The dollar value is just a cap to set a reasonable expectation and, in my experience, if the staff is picking where they’re ordering from, to not have them ordering from somewhere with nightmare prices.

        1. Torrance*

          True enough. Some people want to get ‘what they are owed’, no matter how it affects other people. :/ If the company won’t cover the extras (and, given the COO’s comment, it doesn’t seem likely), then they should simply adjust accordingly– deduct the tip from their stipend and order with what’s left. Or just not order at all, as Princess Consuela pointed out.

          1. Beezus*

            Well if you said “Company is buying lunch at X Place up to $20” and handed me a menu in no way making a choice would I consider a tip. I’d look at the dish prices.

            I also actually shot this to my boss and she agreed it’s just don’t order too much food/make a reasonable menu choice for a meal the company is buying you and can’t write off to a client.

          2. Beezus*

            Also, and this just struck me…if one is making a bulk order, how do you know how to allocate the tip/delivery? It’s not like you can get separate receipts if it’s all charged to a company card.

            1. Jeanne*

              I get the idea they each get to order what they want, when they want, from whatever restaurant. So OP receives multiple deliveries and knows who didn’t tip. I am unclear how the payment works. Do they submit receipts? Or the receptionist just has a stack of $20s? It’s so easy to order online and pay online where there are lines to add a tip. Maybe the company has some accounts. But maybe they do believe the company is paying the tip in which case OP should spread the word officially or unofficially.

    3. Bad Tipper OP*

      OP here! I think you hit the nail on the head with the morale issue – not much I can do about it, but it does help me understand where it’s coming from.

      When we set the restrictions, we told them that the $20 included tax and tip, so they definitely know, unfortunately.

      1. zapateria la bailarina*

        With this clarification, I think all you can really do is send out a reminder that tax and tip are included in the $20, so please plan accordingly when placing an order.

        Beyond that, it’s out of your control :(

        1. Former Hoosier*

          I agree and while it is unfair that you have to be the face of your co workers’ bad behavior, you can’t do much more.

      2. Falling Diphthong*

        *sigh* Most of the world doesn’t bother with our annoying ‘compute the sales tax in your head so we can make everything look like it’s just under a whole number even though it costs more’ and just lists the price you’re going to pay next to food, clothing, etc.

      3. Gloucesterina*

        That’s so frustrating, Bad Tipper OP! It’s clear that sending out a reminder is the only thing you can control in this situation; that said, for clarity’s sake could you see yourself sending out something that spells out how much they can choose to spend and still leave cash left over for tipping the delivery worker? E.g. “For example, if you order a menu item costing X, the $20 dollars will cover Y in tax and Z for a 15% tip”

      4. Beezus*

        I had an INKLING that might be the way the wind was blowing with it. And that SUCKS. I’m sorry. I’d just send out a reminder to your coworkers and at that point you’re kind of hamstrung. I once had to do lunch orders as an unpaid student intern and was told to not tip as the place was “just next door” and I was so embarrassed every time I had to accept the delivery, but I never had cash and was a broke unpaid intern anyway (and it wasn’t/should not have been my responsibility). Good luck!!!!!!

    4. Mike C.*

      I mean this is possible, and I’m certainly one to bring up this issue, but I don’t really see any evidence of this and being under compensated would make me even more cognizant of ensuring I wasn’t passing on that pain to others, not less.

      And I just saw that the OP responded in the affirmative, so good catch.

  13. Chocolate Teapot*

    1. Having checked how much USD 20 is in Euros (approximately EUR 16) and reading the last question about paying for a mandatory office lunch out of your own pocket, I was wondering if the employees spending USD 19.25 are short of money and want to receive as much as they are entitled to?

    1. Beezus*

      See my above comment–i suspect they’re told they get up to $20, here is where we are getting food from send me your order. And no sh*t many ppl will max their order out to within a few cents. Depending on the metro area + place, even a sandwich/soup combo + soda can run upwards $15+.

    2. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock*

      It sounds like exactly that. But generally, you should not order food if you don’t intend to tip. Although tipping is technically optional, functionally it is considered part of the cost of eating a meal out (or ordering it in). If employees truly don’t know that they’re responsible for the tip, that may be an information gap problem. But the fact that some are tipping 5% suggests that at least some people know they’re responsible for paying for the tip, but they’re declining to comply with tipping social norms.

      I will say that $20 sounds like a pretty generous food stipend to me. There are a lot of options within that price point that would also cover tip.

      1. Beezus*

        I think of the company is saying “Hey we’re buying lunch on Tuesdays your budget is $20 max for the order”, it’s a norm for the company to cover the tip/delivery fees/tax on the whole company order.

        1. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock*

          I agree with you—I think it would be preferable for the company to cover the tip/delivery cost because it’s not intuitive to employees that they’re expected to cover those costs using their stipend. It’s more expensive for OP’s company, but it’s a much neater and (imo) reasonable solution.

      2. JamieS*

        Depending on the OP’s location and food options (limited on where to order) $20 may not be all that generous. Also I’m wondering if the employees are specifically telling the OP how much of a tip to give or if the OP is just automatically allocating the remaining part of the stipend to the tip.

      3. Floundering Mander*

        I too wonder if they know that their stipend is supposed to cover a tip, too. If my boss said “we’re ordering lunch for everyone and the limit is $20 each” I would not assume that I am expected to cover the tip as well as the cost of my meal. I would assume that the tip and delivery fee were part of the catering deal arranged with the restaurant.

        Plenty of people are stingy with tips, but usually not a whole office.

        1. Fire*

          I’m a bike courier that delivers food. There are DEFINITELY whole offices that are stingy with tips. Plural. I could name 20+ in my old zone and it was a really small zone.

    3. Mookie*

      I was wondering if the employees […] want to receive as much as they are entitled to?

      Sure, but so do the people making and delivering the food. On weekends, these employees probably dine out or get delivery at home on occasion; do they similarly shirk tipping expectations then, because they’re “entitled” to keep as much of their own money in the bank as possible?

      1. Zip Silver*

        You’re not entitled to tips. Tips are rewards for good service (or even average service)

        Employees are entitled to the wages that their employer owes them.

        1. Mookie*

          Employees are entitled to the wages that their employer owes them.

          My thoughts exactly. So why let employers shirk their responsibilities and farm out part of their payroll to customers?

          Because, actually, there’s a great method for ensuring universally good service judged by clear standards. It starts with holding restaurants fully accountable for the people they hire, and the best means of doing that is being in control of what they earn and paying them what they’re promised. Bad service should be addressed by the business and its management through re-training, discipline, or more serious measures. Owners should not be encouraged to behave as though they’re renting out floor space to FoH staff who are paying, through surrendering in advance part of their legally mandated wages, for the privilege to “perform” the act of service. They are not entertainers and this is not theatre (except when it’s dinner theatre, in which case it’s rarely all that entertaining).

            1. fposte*

              And I don’t think that’s enough; I don’t think tip culture has disappeared in the U.S. places where servers make regular minimum wage or in cities with higher minimum wage. It’s too ingrained as a practice now.

              1. Detective Right-All-The-Time*

                Not necessarily true – many restaurants in my city do not allow tipping any more because they do pay their entire staff (FOH and BOH) very well. It’s explicitly laid out on the receipt when you receive it.

                1. fposte*

                  Individual restaurants are always free to opt out; I’m saying that tip culture doesn’t overall seem to be much different in places like Oregon or Washington, where food servers aren’t paid below minimum wage. IOW, the tip culture predominates over the logic behind tip culture.

                2. Doreen*

                  There is no logic behind tip culture. I have been involved in throwing/organizing a number of parties over the past view years. Whether the party is in the back room of a restaurant with sub-minimum wage servers or in a unionized venue with servers making $16/hr, there was an automatic 18-20% charge for gratuities (which is actually distributed to the employees). That’s not terribly illogical (although the reasons used to justify tipping don’t really apply to a gratuity paid in advance that is going to above minimum wage servers) – the part that’s crazy is that at every such party I’ve been to, guests tip the bartenders but never those serving the food.

                3. nonegiven*

                  I just read that in OK, those mandatory large party surcharges aren’t considered tips and are disincentivized using it to pay employees.

                  popup warning

                  >Mandatory Service Charges

                  Some restaurants tack a “mandatory service charge” on to bills for large tables of diners, private parties, or catered events. Under federal law and in most states, this isn’t considered a tip. Even if the customer thinks that money is going to you and doesn’t leave anything extra on the table, your employer can keep any money designated as a “service charge.” The law generally considers this part of the contract between the patron and the establishment, not a voluntary acknowledgment of good service by an employee. Many employers give at least part of these service charges to employees, but that’s the employer’s choice: Employees have no legal right to that money.

                  A couple of states have different rules, intended to make sure that customers know whether their money is going to the employer or the server. Oklahoma is not one of them, however.

                  A recent rule change by the Internal Revenue Service has created a significant incentive for employers to stop imposing mandatory service charges, if the employer hands any of that money over to employees. Starting in 2014, the I.R.S. will begin enforcing a rule that changes the tax treatment of mandatory service charges. Any portion of such a charge the employer pays out to employees must be treated as wages, not tips. This means the employer must withhold and pay Social Security and Medicare (FICA) tax on these amounts, may not claim a credit against its tax obligations for these amounts (as it can for tips), and must include them as part of the employee’s hourly wage when determining overtime payments, among other things.

                  To the extent employees do not fully report their tip income, employees who receive all or part of a service charge won’t be happy with this change, either.

                  The rule applies only to mandatory service charges. For the amount to count as a tip rather than a service charge, all of the following must be true:

                  The payment must be entirely voluntary
                  The customer must have the unrestricted right to determine the amount
                  The amount cannot be set by employer policy or subject to negotiation with the employer.
                  The customer must have the right to determine who receives the payment.

        2. Antilles*

          In theory yeah, but unfortunately, that’s not the way the system works. Employers are legally allowed to pay less than minimum wage for tipped employees – instead of the employer paying the $7.25 minimum wage, they’re allowed to pay $2.13/hour if employees can make up the extra money in tips.
          So while technically you’re not “entitled” to tips, the way the system is set up works under the assumption that customers will be providing a standard 15+% tip in order to satisfy the minimum wage laws.
          (Theoretically, if a tipped employee works doesn’t make enough in tips to bring her up to minimum wage, the employer is legally required to make up the difference. But I worked for several years in food service, had many friends who worked in other parts of the food service industry, and have never seen or even heard of this actually occurring.)

          1. LCL*

            Yeah, I hate our tipping culture and always tip heavily-20% for table service and 15% for delivery. Because that’s the system that we have, and if I tried to make a stand by not tipping I would just be hurting the worker not the system.

          2. Cercis*

            The one time it was brought up at a place I worked, the boss made it clear that if you weren’t making enough in tips, then you must be a poor performer and she had no room for poor performers. I worked many shifts where even 25% of the food I sold wouldn’t have been enough to bring my earnings to minimum wage (and most people didn’t even tip 20% in that area, they all actually calculated 15% to the penny), but I needed the job so I didn’t dare make a fuss about it. At least the cooks would regularly “overcook” fries so I could get a little food (because we got charged full price for food as well).

        3. Bette*

          You’re also not entitled to food being brought to your doorstep. Someone who orders delivery AND won’t tip is both lazy and stingy. This is not aimed at anyone here, by the way, just an observation.

            1. Bette*

              If you don’t want to tip a delivery driver, get off your ass and go pick up your food. Delivery is admittedly the lazier option, but if you tip well, there’s no problem.

                1. Cercis*

                  Is “lazy” a moral failing? Maybe that’s the difference here. I see “lazy” as a minor personality trait. Some people are energetic, peppy, frantic, some are laid back, lazy, lethargic.

                  I’m overwhelmingly cheap and efficient with time, so I prefer to walk up the street to get lunch, saving on the delivery fee (still tipping) AND getting my exercise at the same time (saves me from having to make time to exercise later and allows me to be lazy in front of the computer at home).

                2. fposte*

                  @Cercis (love the name, even if I did just dig out a bunch of you)–it’s pretty inarguably pejorative in a way “laid-back” isn’t, and it seems to have been chosen in this case for its pejorative value. Could have just been splashover from the tipping frustration, though.

              1. Quacktastic*

                Uh, have you ever considered that there are reasons for delivery that don’t involve laziness?

                I work 12 hour shifts with no breaks or lunches. It’s literally illegal for me to leave the premises during that time. Sometimes, I want something that isn’t a Lean Cuisine frozen meal or a thermos of soup or a homemade sandwich. (Also, I’ve worked at places with no food fridge or microwave, so that really limits options.) Delivery is the only way I can get non-home-brought food. It’s not that I’m too lazy to get it, it’s that I legally, literally can’t.

              2. NotAnotherManager!*

                I will totally own being so lazy that I order delivery often on weekends, primarily because it’s cheaper than having a date night out – there you go, I’m lazy AND cheap.

                Every week, I spend an average of 13 hours commuting (if the damn metro is working properly and not on fire, which is startlingly infrequent), 50-60 hours working, 7 hours on marshaling reading/homework/medical appointments/child-related paperwork with my kids, 2 hours at whatever sport is in season, and at least an hour planning activities for my volunteer position. In between that, I try to keep my house from looking like it qualifies for FEMA assistance, and I do enjoy sleeping a few hours. By Saturday night, I’m completely wiped out, and one of the wonders of the modern world is that I can tap a few times on my phone (pinnacle of lazy!) and food magically arrives at my door.

                I tip very, very well for delivery. Anyone who is willing to drop hot, delicious food off on my front doorstep will be well-compensated for their trouble. A few of them have also been hugged, too.

      2. Roscoe*

        First off, I do think spending company money and spending your money is very different. As an example, we are having a company outing this week. The company is purchasing 3 drinks for everyone. Logically, the company is going to cover the tip (I assume). I don’t think its wrong to assume that. So most people probably aren’t going to tip for every drink they get. That doesn’t mean they wouldn’t tip if they were at a bar themselves.

        1. Anastasia Beaverhausen*

          At our company outings we are given tickets for bar drinks, usually 2 each, and I always tip at the bar when I use one, usually a dollar. At private parties with an open bar, I always tip too. But a month or so ago I went to a private birthday party that had an open bar, and when I looked for a tip “jar” there was none. I said “you have no tip jar!” and the bartender said that the tips were already covered by the host. I thought and still do that was so awesome and gracious. If I’m ever able to throw a party with an open bar, I’m gonna cover the tips too!

  14. Akcipitrokulo*

    OP3 – Would it help to see it as not endorsing lateness? People generally would realise you’re not saying “It’s OK that you’re late” – you’re saying “It’s OK – you’ve apologised and now we can move on”. If it’s becoming an issue that means you’re not able to move on without other actions… then you’re not going to say “OK” anyway.

    1. Mookie*

      That’s good, naming the apology for what it is. It underlines that the person did do something objectionable and that they have no reason to believe that it’ll be okay to do so again in future.

    2. Jeanne*

      I prefer a response of “Thank you” in this case to “It’s ok.” You acknowledge that you heard them and that they did need to say sorry. And it’s still easy to get to work.

  15. YL*

    Regarding letter 4:
    Alison wrote, “I’m worried that they care about it for some reason …”
    Perhaps the handwritten application is requested in order to have a graphologist do an analysis? I’m not commenting on whether there’s any point to that (and not wanting to open up a discussion on that topic either) but an applicant might want to keep that in mind.

    1. nonegiven*

      There are places that don’t think they are big enough to have a web portal with online applications. If they are hiring for jobs that don’t usually involve resumes, that leaves a form to fill out by hand. Even small chains that have online applications may hand out the printed forms to locals, when asked.

  16. Akcipitrokulo*

    OP4 – if they object – either the job involves a lot of handwriting or they are not someone you’d want to work for!

  17. Chaperon Rouge*

    OP #1, are you in the US, and if so are your coworkers American? If not perhaps make it clear what the local tipping expectations are. I’m European and we don’t typically tip on deliveries here, so when I was on a research stay in the US I was constantly offending people without realising it! They were sometimes rude in response and I didn’t understand why. It’s the kind of thing that no one tells you about (a bit like restaurant prices not including tax) but it is very culture-dependent.

    1. Apparently Terrible?*

      I wonder if it’s a regional / coastal area / big city thing. I’m in the US and generally don’t tip on delivery orders, especially if there’s already a delivery charge. (Always tip 20% in restaurants). If OP#1 were in my office, I would have NO IDEA she thought I was being stingy, and even if she asked if I forgot the tip, I would still shrug my shoulders, because I wouldn’t think I was doing anything wrong.

      Reading these comments makes me realize that perhaps I am a terrible person. I would think the receptionist could make the case that word is getting out that the office is full of terrible people and it’s giving them bad PR. Depending on the industry, that might have sway.

      1. Morning Glory*

        It really depends on the place, and it’s worth finding out before placing an order. In general, however, if there is a place for a tip on the credit card slip, then you should probably leave at least a 10% tip. If not, then it is likely the company does not allow their delivery staff to accept tips, and hopefully compensates them accordingly.

        As an admin at an org with a company card but no petty cash, it’s always stressful to me when there is no option to write in a tip – I cannot be 100% sure that the company does compensate them better, and I also cannot be sure if the delivery person is hoping for a cash tip.

      2. Bette*

        The delivery charge does not go to the delivery person. Yes, you need to tip on top of the delivery charge.

        1. Starbuck*

          Oh wow, that’s frustrating to learn. I always assumed that it was distributed to the delivery person (because what else would it be for??) and adjusted my tip percentage down accordingly.

      3. The IT Manager*

        I just googled and learned that delivery drivers are considered tipped employees and therefore don’t make minimum wage. Or at least it is allowed under law in some places.

        I usually tip but not much more than 10%. I’ll have to rethink.

        1. Jess*

          I tip 20% (with a $3 minimum, if my order is less than $15) for delivery people because their lives super suck and if they drive, they are the ones responsible for their car, its upkeep and gas, not the owners of the business. And they are not paid the minimum wage. And yes, they 10000% remember who is the shitty tippers (just like servers do). If the delivery person doesn’t drive, then they go out and walk or bike in the cold/rain/snow/heat/generally terrible conditions. AND, unlike a server, who likely has a number of tables at any given time in one location, a delivery person is bringing your food to you in disparate locations to the restaurant and if it’s a relatively slow night, they might be making a trip just for your order, and then have to go back to the restaurant to get the next one.

      4. That Would Be a Good Band Name*

        I tip at least 20% because it makes my pizza come faster. I live in a small town and it’s definitely remembered. We always notice when we’re at someone else’s house how much longer it takes for food to be delivered. I guess it could be a coincidence but we’re pretty sure it’s because we tip well.

        1. SignalLost*

          Not just for delivery. I had to cover a stiffed tip a few years back on a work trip – a group I was tangentially part of, in that I had arrived at the hotel bar and recognized people in the group and gone to speak with them, had broken up and the host of the group had paid the bill but left no tip. The only reason I even knew about it was because the manager of the bar came to me a bit later and asked about it since her server was so upset. I wound up tipping $50, which was at least 50%, because I could lose that in my per-diem and I knew my boss would back me on the tip since the host was a contractor for my company, my company was the major supporter of the convention in question, and EVERYONE there knew both those things, so it was a company reputation issue in my eyes.

          I pretty much spent the rest of the convention drinking the stiffest drinks known to man even if that server wasn’t working. I continued to overtip (but for myself).

  18. LS*

    #5. I live and work in a very rural area and it’s extremely common for businesses here to have little or no web presence simply because everyone you deal with is local. A high Google ranking for the business would be entirely irrelevant.

    1. Former Hoosier*

      And I really don’t understand an employer thinking that a low presence is a reason not to hire someone. There are very good businesses that genuinely don’t need a significant online presence and also businesses that foolishly don’t care. Either way an employee shouldn’t be penalized for this in future employment. And, I would worry that the OP is missing a great company to work for by applying this standard.

      1. fposte*

        I don’t think it’s the low presence per se; it’s the notion that the company may have been invented by the candidate that’s the problem.

    2. stefanielaine*

      Yeah I just want to second this – I work in mental health in rural Arizona, and most of our clinics (even our best ones) don’t have websites or any meaningful web presence. Like LS said, everyone they work with is local. Either people walk into the clinic, or they’re delivered there by family or ambulance, and we communicate with them by phone or email. Web presence isn’t necessary, so they don’t spend their very limited budgets on it. But onsite they’ve got pamphlets, business cards, mailers, etc. that will prove their existence should you ever need to.

  19. Triplestep*

    OP #2, I think there may be a misunderstanding. Have you actually been told that a policy for remote work is under consideration? I could be wrong, of course, but I plan and designed space for organizations which have space shortages for years – companies that *should* be implementing a remote work policy, but aren’t doing so out of fear. I have heard some form of the argument you’ve been told more times than I can count, when in reality they just don’t want a remote work policy at all. And it is usually coming from middle managers – not from the higher ups.

    Remote work has been around long enough that we’ve had a chance to study it, and studies show that individual contributors like it (for all the reasons you would, OP) and senior leaders like it (because employees are happier, more engaged, and yes – more productive). The people who don’t like it are middle managers like your direct manager and the office manager. Why? Because they are responsible for the individual contributors, and they answer to the senior leaders. So remote work gets rejected out of fear – often by people who shrug and say “I WOULD but …” and then follow with some excuse that there’s no way to implement it fairly.

    At the start of any group’s space planning process, their current space and plans for growth need to be discussed. I will routinely ask senior leaders if they have considered remote work and the flexible space use that is a by product. Typically they are open to it while their direct reports are not, but if I sense any resistance, I tell them about the above studies being sure to add “We know statistically speaking that senior leaders like you are behind it …” and then go into what I’ve outlined above. By the end of the meeting they are solidly behind it, and of course, they always were. (Even an exec who had started out by asking “how do I know they won’t be off ice skating?” was “of course behind it” an hour later.)

    So, OP, if there really is a chance to implement a policy, I suggest you do a ‘net search on remote work and send your manager links to some of the many articles that cite increased worker productivity. (Many chalk it up to the fact that remote workers are so determined to keep the arrangement that they work harder and longer hours to prove themselves.) Given this, it’s likely your company would see better performance from your “mediocre” colleagues if they were given the option, too.

    1. Overeducated*

      Would you meet with my division chief, please? My organization actually supports remote work, so many of my open office neighbors have regular telework days, but my mid-upper management does not (not sure what the division is when someone is upper but not C-level).

      1. Anon to me*

        That was the problem that we had in our organization for a long-time. The stumbling block was never middle management, it was upper management. For us, it was specifically our CEO, who felt that anyone without a particular industry specific credential could not be trusted to work-from-home. Our HR department, to their credit, spent several years convincing the CEO that his opinion was short sighted, costing the organization talent, and was discriminatory (even if it wasn’t legally actionable discrimination).

        So we have a policy now. But, it took years to get. And there have been many other organizations that I have worked for where the issue really has been with the upper management not the direct managers.

    2. Jeanne*

      I hate that about not being able to implement it fairly. I bet if OP is an outstanding worker that her workload isn’t distributed fairly. She probably has more assignments or harder assignments or both. Maybe she has earned the chance rather than it being offered as a favor.

    3. Liane*

      Tripplestep, maybe a lot of “middle managers don’t like remote work, and AAM has answered questions from/about them before. However OP explicitly writes that her direct manager and the office manager are “fine” with the idea. So it reads to me that OP and her middle managers know/anticipate the senior managers asking those questions and wanting to have good answers prepared.

      1. OP #2*

        “So it reads to me that OP and her middle managers know/anticipate the senior managers asking those questions and wanting to have good answers prepared.”

        Thanks, Liane, that’s what I believe my direct managers are doing too (at least that’s the hope).

        I appreciate all of the comments and insight on this topic!

      2. Triplestep*

        Yes, I read that her manager and office manager have told her they are fine with it … my point is they may not be. It’s possible they would rather not have the headache they anticipate comes along with managing a distributed tram, so they skirt the issue by implying others would be unproductive if allowed to work remotely.

        If that’s the case, then it would be pointless to give OP#2 suggestions for a remote work policy that excludes “mediocre” workers. I’m not convinced anyone has indicated they’d entertain those ideas from her. In my view she’d be better off selling them on the idea for every role that can be remote, maybe banding together with her co-workers to do so. Every remote work policy I have seen mentions that it is applied at the discretion of the manager … THAT IS their out if someone is not performing under the new arrangement.

  20. hbc*

    #4: What would be his solution if you weren’t around? I’m asking not because there’s anything wrong with what you’re doing, but because the loss of convenience might be worth getting rid of whatever (likely small) negative consequences there are to having your handwriting on the applications. The scan option is good, or maybe he could fill it out over the course of a day or two in small chunks.

  21. Blue Bird*

    #4 sounds like the potential employer is into graphology. In which case: run! Run fast and don’t look back!

    1. Jeanne*

      I don’t think so. Many, many places still want a paper application filled out. Usually because “we’ve always done it that way.”

      1. Blue Bird*

        I know there are some countries (France… looking at you), where graphology is very much a thing, but I guess the OP would have mentioned that context. Hm. Handwritten applications sound terribly outdated either way – I would not get the best impression from an employer who insisted on that kind of inefficiency. (I mean, what else would I need to expect? Stone tablets? Tube mail? Craniometry?)

        1. Zip Silver*

          If it’s a low paying retail or food service job with a small employer, then paper is still very much king. It’s so often not worth investing in online application software of you’ve only got 15-20 employees.

          1. Blue Bird*

            Ok, but I’m not even talking about online application software. I just mean that it should be sufficient to type an application, print it, then send it to the employer… right? If I understand the OP correctly, the potential employer insists on handwriting, and that’s what I consider weird. Unless it’s part of your job to write a lot, manually. Then it would make sense.

            1. Elsajeni*

              My guess is that, as Alison suggested, these aren’t necessarily places that actually require you to handwrite your application, just places that give you a paper application to fill out with instructions like “Please print clearly in blue or black ink.” So handwriting seems to be implied by the instructions, and unless you have a typewriter, there’s no obvious way to type your application and have it come out looking clean and neat. (I think scanning it, typing on the electronic copy, and printing that out is a good way to go, but it also requires a fair amount of equipment and computer savvy — if you’d asked me before I read these comments and saw some specific open-source options named, I would have said “I can’t do that without using my work computer, I don’t have the software at home.”)

              1. NotThatGardner*

                just because i feel i need to plug this all the time because people forget that this is an option — but if there is a public library in your town, they almost always have at least basic scan and print capabilities, and could help you do it! they are trained to help you with basic scan/print/stuff like this! and you wouldn’t need to do it at work or get software at home :)

            2. Erin*

              legible handwriting/printing is such an under appreciated and important skill. I have crappy handwriting, but I take my time to write neat when it’s short but important and not worth typing something.

        2. Danger: Gumption Ahead*

          I feel for whoever has to screen the applications. My handwriting was bad in K-12 and has only gotten worse since then because I rarely do more than sign my name or write post-it reminders.

    2. Former Hoosier*

      I used to work with someone who required part of the application to be written by hand. To be fair, it was a surgical group so someone who was applying to be a surgeon wouldn’t have a hand disability (or it would be very unlikely) but the doctor was convinced that by requiring this he was using a super secret, super effective means of screening out doctors. It was crazy but he didn’t actually use graphology as far as I know. Of course, he was an awful person to work for and so I wouldn’t criticize using this as a screening methog to not wortk there.

      1. Snazzy Hat*

        My father has a friend who had gorgeous handwriting until she went to med school. I’ve needed to decipher Christmas cards from her. “I think she lives in Massachusetts?”

  22. Overeducated*

    Do the workers ordering lunch know the tax and tip are being paid with, and not in addition to, their $20 limit? When I have had to sign for cash to buy a work meal individually, I am aware I need to cover those, but I don’t tend to think about them in the case of a group order the company is being billed for because I would assume the company budgeted for them. Clarity might help a bit.

  23. Sheworkshardforthemoney*

    OP1. Having worked in the food/hospitality industry we know that the front facing people like you aren’t responsible for the tips. But your building/business is going to have a reputation as poor tippers and realistically it may affect the service you receive. The order taker sees Low Tip No Tip Cosmic Teapots on the ticket and the order may lose a place or two in favour of Big Tip McGee. It’s not fair but our drivers will go a little faster for the good tippers.

  24. Jwal*

    The only issue I can think of with you filling it out by hand would be if your boyfriend has a unisex name, because that with girly handwriting could make people think that he is female and potentially introduce unconscious bias.

    Obviously it shouldn’t be an issue – my experience with IT has been more male-dominated, but I’m aware that doesn’t mean it all is or that it would be a problem. Just throwing it out there in case that’s something your boyfriend has noticed with his field.

  25. Essie*

    #4 I know it’s a privilege to be choosy about finding work, but I have to wonder if I’d really want to do IT for a company still having people hand-write job application forms. What if they make me provide tech support on a Commodore 64?

  26. Roscoe*

    #1 So the tipping thing is interesting, because I hate tipping. Now, to be clear, I’m a good tipper AT a restaurant, but I don’t necessarily think the same “standard” of tipping applies to delivery. For an $18 meal, I’d have no problem tipping $2. Also, I see it as if you are all ordering from the same place, is bringing 5 sandwiches in that much more work than bringing 1? So I don’t necessarily think each person needs to put the same percentage in. Also, if you are just looking at what you put in, its easy to not look at the overall tip. However, I can see how you as the “face” of the order could be embarrassed by that. Maybe if you keep a log for a week, and show it to them and say “on average we are tipping x on a bill of y, lets see if we can do a bit better.”

  27. Phoebe*

    #1 – Are you absolutely sure they’re not tipping at the time of purchase on their credit card? I know many restaurants that offer delivery allow you to do that and in our area Uber Eats even allows tipping in the app itself now.

    1. Liane*

      Lots of places here, yes even those with apps and online ordering, don’t give a tip amount option until you get the paper signature slip with a tip line.
      Just last week, College Son ordered pizza delivery from Big Chain using app and card, which we do a few times a month. This was the first time his receipt had a tip line, so he used that in place of the cash tip he had ready for the driver.

    2. Bad Tipper OP*

      Unfortunately no, it’s all worked out ahead of time, and I receive all deliveries. I have had a few people give me cash to tip with, which of course I don’t mind!

      1. Observer*

        In that case, why do you think that you are “tacitly endorsing” their bad tipping? If someone has an Amazon order delivered, and you accept the delivery as part of your duties, does that mean an endorsement of Amazon? What if the delivery turns out to be non-fair trade coffee? Or literature that you have fundamental disagreement with? Or literature that you DO agree with?

        The bad news is that you can’t control this. The good news is that no one thinks you can.

  28. Stellaaaaa*

    OP1: What sorts of places are people ordering from? Is there a list of “approved” eateries or is the selection limited somehow by location or time limits? Is it possible that the $20 stipend isn’t enough to order a full meal and leave enough for a nice tip? It sort of sounds like people are trying to get the most bang for their $20 and OP is painting that as greed or gluttony but maybe the $20 just isn’t buying enough food.

    I’m not excusing the employees for not tipping; I’m just presenting a possibility for why so many people might be falling into this bad habit. It would be on the COO/company to solve the problem if their “generous” gift of a $20 stipend doesn’t actually buy a full meal plus tip, or if people are being sketchy and ordering an extra meal to take home for dinner.

    1. Morning Glory*

      I work in an expensive city, and there are always a few options for lunch delivery under $20 – even at mid-range nice places.

      Whether $20 is a high enough daily stipend for the employees is a separate issue from whether they fulfill the social contract to tip. It’s also not the OP’s problem to fix, nor within her power, as receptionist, to do so.

    2. Zathras*

      I think the mechanism of how the orders work, which isn’t described in the letter, is actually important. Is OP 1 actually handling the payment transaction, or is she just receiving the delivery when the employee paid online? How easy is it for employees to add their own money on top of the company $20 (and does it require remembering to have $1 bills on you?)

      My guess is it’s going on a company card but OP1 isn’t allowed to charge more than $20 to the card. If the company really isn’t willing to spend more than $20 per person, the simplest solution is to change the order limit to $18.

      1. Roscoe*

        Absolutely. Because its very different if say everyone orders from the same place, and they can place an order of up to $20 that the company pays for, as opposed to each of them ordering separately and not tipping on their own order.

      2. Stellaaaaa*

        I think you’re probably on the money. If my boss suddenly said, “Hey, we’re going to start covering lunch for everyone,” it wouldn’t automatically occur to me that tipping was my responsibility. The COO isn’t handing out $20 bills every day and ensuring that people receive change with which to tip. Unless I was told differently by someone with authority, I wouldn’t carry my own cash for tips if my food was going on the company card.

        OP is the one receiving deliveries; does she really want people to be leaving tip cash with her every day? I would never do that. I just don’t think it’s up to the employees to cover tips on something that’s meant to be a gift to them. Whoever is signing the credit card receipt should be paying the tip, even if that means that the $20 amount needs to be adjusted.

    3. nonymous*

      I have a per diem for meals and incidentals which is supposed to cover tax and tip. I find that if I set personal expectations low – supplement with grocery store food, etc – and pack well, I have more than enough to cover expenses. When I’ve gotten into trouble is if I expect to get a high end meal out of it. If I go over, it becomes my expense (we get reimbursed the flat amount after travel is over).

      Having said that, delivery is expensive! I would expect that $20 in most places to cover only about $14 of food. $2-3 for the delivery fee, $1 for taxes would leave only $2 for tip.

      My advice is to limit the number of food places to 2 or 3 and pool orders to minimize the delivery fees, institute a mandatory 15% tip and reduce the allowance. If there are a lot of options in the area, just rotate. If OP#1’s company is ordering 5-10 meals from the same place at Y o’clock every X day and tips appropriately, they will get good service, sometimes extra food.

      1. nonymous*

        edit: it will also make the receipt, ordering and billing process much easier. Some places with online ordering will let you designate a code for group orders and then combine the bill for you! Trust me, no restaurant wants to deliver N times to the same building in a 2hr window.

  29. Ice Bear*

    #2 – This reminds me of a former manager who wouldn’t let me work remotely because “it wouldn’t be fair to the other people” whom she didn’t trust to work from home. I was an outstanding performer but was penalized because she didn’t want to deal with the poor performers complaining. I was so happy when she was replaced by a much more sensible manager who, when I explained what happened before, told me – “fair doesn’t mean equal”. Needless to say, I was then able to work from home a few days a week which made that job a little bit better to deal with.

    1. Former Hoosier*

      This exactly. Too many managers think fair is equal and what happens is that excellent people often leave because they are treated exactly like the poor performers. Managers need to step up and manage.

    2. Jeanne*

      And yet you weren’t treated “fairly” either I bet. As the high performer, you often work more hours while the mediocre workers have less to do. Managers can be ridiculous.

  30. Naruto*

    #2 – that style of management is really common at law firms. It’s weird because they can also be such brutal places. But lawyers aren’t managers (although they have to be), so especially with staff it’s easier not to tell someone to stop being a goof off.

    1. NotAnotherManager!*

      I was just grumbling to HR the other day that they expected me to take a whole bunch of management seminars, but, hilariously, they never made the attorneys go and they were the ones digging the holes we were in. Law firms also tend to have very old-fashioned notions of face-time culture as well as being very attached to things like paper binders that you have to be there in person to create. It’s getting better, but it’s a slow process.

  31. Angelinha*

    I disagree on #5. If I see a company on a resume and the title and job accomplishments make it sound like it’s a company in my field, but I’ve never heard of it, I’ll definitely google it to see where they are, whether I know anyone there, etc. This may be less of a thing in huge fields and I guess with mental health, if I just see “Rural Town Mental Health Clinic” I’ll assume it’s legit.

  32. Sarah*

    For #3: I’m a fan of “Thanks” to acknowledge an “I’m sorry” when it’s not a huge deal but also not 100%. I also think with students in particular, it can be helpful to be very, very explicit: “It’s ok this time, but it can’t become a habit” or “It’s okay since this is the first time — but please don’t let this happen again” or “It’s okay for today, but next time please call/email/text to let me know you’re running late” (or whatever the case may be). Some students really might not have worked before or understand workplace norms. While I haven’t supervised student workers too much, I teach a LOT of college students, and over the years have found that things that might be obvious to me (i.e. “I’m giving you a break on this late assignment because you’re obviously a very stressed out freshman and it’s your first month of school/first offense, but next time I won’t let it slide without a penalty”) really need to be very explicitly spelled out, rather than me just saying “It’s ok, don’t worry about it this time.” Sometimes it can feel harsh, but actually it’s doing them a favor because they know what to expect and can plan around that, rather than something coming as a surprise because they made assumptions due to inexperience.

    1. Sarah*

      Sorry, for that first sentence, should read: I’m a fan of “Thanks” to acknowledge an “I’m sorry” when it’s not a huge deal but also not 100% *acceptable*.

    2. alanna*

      I agree with all of this. If it becomes a recurring problem, it’s also something you can address in a quick conversation at the end of the day: “Hey, Arya, I’ve noticed you’ve been coming in closer to 9:10 than 9 am. When you don’t come in on time, it [REASON IT IS A PROBLEM — “we have to scramble to cover your duties,” “it makes me feel like you’re not reliable”]. Is this shift not working with your class schedule?”

      I was routinely two minutes late to team meetings and didn’t think it was a big deal (it’s two minutes!) until my boss said “Alanna, you are nearly always coming into this meeting late. Do you have a conflict on your calendar we need to work around? OK, then you need to pretend it starts at 9:20 instead of 9:30, or get up half an hour earlier, or do whatever you need to do to be here on time. It’s disruptive to the team and distracting to me when people come in late.”

      That was 2 years ago and I’ve been late maybe 2-3 times since. I would also walk over fire for this boss, who is very good at being a compassionate hardass.

      1. Snazzy Hat*

        you need to pretend it starts at 9:20 instead of 9:30, or get up half an hour earlier, or do whatever you need to do to be here on time.

        That’s me. My commute to work involves driving less than ten minutes to get to a parking garage, then walking to a trolley stop. If I leave my driveway before 8:00, I’ll definitely get to work on time if not early. If I leave at 8:05, I might miss the trolley. {whines} But my bed is soooo comfortable!

        I need a compassionate hardass in my life.

    3. Another Academic Librarian*

      When I worked directly with student workers, my department had a shared document where we could record if students were late, left early, missed a shift, or had any other issues related to attendance. This was helpful because it meant we all *knew* when something was a one-time thing and when it became a pattern. (I also imagine this helps to avoid situations where, say, a student worker of a particular race get a lot of “better not let this happen again” first warnings while a worker of a different race was escalated to a written or formal warning much faster.)

  33. Delta Delta*

    #5 – Living in a rural(ash) area, and working in a profession that touches mental health, the first thing that popped to my head was that the place OP5 works may be the community mental health organization for her area. Often those organizations are of decent size, but don’t necessarily need advertising because they’re either the only game in town or the only game in town that takes subsidies and/or medicaid. That’s not to say a website wouldn’t be helpful for them, but it might not be necessary or even within their time/resources/budget. IF that’s the kind of organization where OP5 is working, it might be helpful to indicate that on her resume somehow so that it’s clear. I’d guess other professionals in that same field would understand if it said, “XYZ Counseling Services – state-designated MH org for the tri-county region” or something like that.

    And, it might not be completely out of line to suggest to the powers that be to make at least a small site that has helpful things like location. And hours. And a phone number. But that might be a different comment for a different question.

    1. Jeanne*

      You may be right about the lack of money to make a website if they’re a group that takes a lot of medicaid patients.

  34. Delta Delta*

    #3 – I’m remembering back to college, and having a campus job, and having the same issue. Our classes went for an hour, but always actually started at 10 past the hour to allow for time to move between classes. It was sort of a given that if class was at 2, it was really 2:10. My campus job also scheduled people to begin work on the hour. We had a manager one year who had never worked on that campus before, who sort of lost her bananas a little bit when everyone rolled in 10 minutes past the hour. There was a weird tension between start time and campus start time. She created a solution where work didn’t start on the hour for anyone – work started on the half hour for everyone. That way there’d be enough time to get there from class, grab a snack, use the loo – whatever. There was a little pushback at first, but people adjusted pretty well.

    Point being – maybe this happens for OP’s students, also, especially the habitually late ones? If this is a huge campus, maybe it isn’t possible for students to arrive in that amount of time. Maybe adjusting schedules could help.

    1. Rusty Shackelford*

      Our classes went for an hour, but always actually started at 10 past the hour to allow for time to move between classes. It was sort of a given that if class was at 2, it was really 2:10.

      That’s… completely bizarre. Has anyone else experienced this? At my college, classes were scheduled from 2:00 to 2:50 (or whatever), leaving a 10 minute break to get to your next class, and I assumed that’s how they all worked. Why on earth would they come up with this “informal” schedule instead?

      1. Sarah*

        My grad school did this too! It worked just fine once you got used to it. The key is everyone needs to coordinate on one option or the other (either starting 10 minutes after the hour, or ending 10 minutes before the hour) — it really doesn’t matter which, as long as there’s one consistent thing across campus.

      2. nosy nelly*

        I went to a school where 2pm really meant 2:10pm, as well, and they took an odd pride in it. Like “this is something unique about our campus”, and the concept had a nickname and everything. It was confusing for seminars and things that were NOT on that schedule, for sure, but it was pretty well-ingrained that classes started on that timeframe. In effect, the 10-min passing time is what is important on a medium or large campus, so there are just different ways of accomplishing it ((shrugs))

      3. dancer*

        My university did the informal schedule too. Everyone just understood it and I remember all our profs letting us know the standard in our first year.

        Our campus was large and it could take some time to dash between classes. I remember for one class we had to cross a major city intersection and it was faster to run down into the subway station and back up the other side rather than wait for the lights.

      4. Essie*

        Mine had 15 minutes between classes, and that wasn’t enough time even when bicycling. Stupid sprawling rural campus!

    2. Allison*

      I was thinking about something similar, how if people are coming to work from class they might not have enough time – maybe work and class are on opposite ends of campus and they didn’t realize how long it’d take to walk there, or maybe their professors are going over time, or they’re grabbing coffee before work and the line is always super long. It might be worth advising student workers, when filling out their availability, that there should be an X minute time buffer between the scheduled end of your last class and the earliest possible start of your shift (if your class ends at 2, you’re not available to start at 2, you’re available to start at 2:30).

    3. alanna*

      I posted this upthread, but I think if it’s a recurring problem that’s a compassionate, not-lecture-y way to raise it. “I notice you’ve been struggling to get here at [time] — is there a conflict with your class schedule, and would it be better for you to work a different shift?”

  35. Bree*

    OP #4 – The scanning and typing option is ideal, but might be tough, depending on your tech setup, time, or the kind of application. In that case, I think it’s totally fine for you to act as his scribe – that’s a legitimate disability accomodation (I used to tutor a student with disabilities and we did it all the time). Probably, the writing difference wouldn’t be noticed – especially if you print – and if anyone asks, he can just explain the situation.

    The other option (if you’re really worried) would be to add a note to the application saying something like “Though typing is not a problem, I have a disability that makes lengthy writing by hand difficult. Application contents were dictated.” Of course, you run the risk that someone might discriminate against him in the hiring process – at the same time, eventually this issue would come out in the workplace, anyway.

  36. Greg M.*

    unrelated, anyone else started seeing this little grey box at the bottom of the window that says close and does nothing when you click it?

      1. Greg M.*

        really that’s harsh, you’re not going to put it on a performance improvement plan to see if it can shape up?:P

  37. bohtie*

    #2: “Finding arguments to allow someone to telecommute is easy, but reasons for refusing someone that particular perk (without the risk of being considered “mean”) seem harder to come up with.”

    This is super interesting to me, because my company looks at it the complete opposite – you have to make a very strong business case and basically present a proposal in order to be allowed to work from home even one day a week unless you’re above a certain pay grade. (Hilariously, all the higher-ups are actually required to telecommute 1+ times per week, the theory as I’ve heard it being that it means they can’t be invited to meetings on that day and therefore might actually be able to get some work done.) I’ve been trying to get even the occasional day for years and it is NOT happening.

    1. zapateria la bailarina*

      I agree, I think the opposite is true. Also, why does the workplace care about being “mean”?

  38. Dust Bunny*

    #3 if it’s a case where a normally reliable employee gets stuck in traffic or has a bad morning and is a little bit late, extremely rarely, then I’d totally just say, it’s OK. One, it’s not habitual; two, they already know it’s not OK–that’s why they’re apologizing, and why they haven’t made a habit of waltzing in any time they please. I only worry about addressing this if it’s an ongoing thing (and before everyone jumps on me about being flexible–we can’t do that. We have office hours and serve the public, and we need people here. If you are late on a regular basis, it needs to be addressed. We are flexible in that some people come in and leave a bit early, and others a bit late, but we can’t have everyone coming in whenever because we have hours that need to be covered, and a department of only four people who need to cover them).

  39. Anon to me*

    #2 – My employer for years refused to have a work-from-home policy because upper management feared it would be abused. They finally realized that in order to be competitive in the industry that they had to have a formal policy. Included in that policy is indicating who is eligible , when they are eligible, and the caveat that the option can be removed at any time by an individual supervisor based on performance. We have had a policy for the last year or so, and we only have a handful of people who have scheduled work-from-home days.

    Honestly, the biggest issue we have is a few staff members who seem to think that a work-from-home day is an extra day off per week. When it’s anything but.

  40. Jaybeetee*

    OP4: To be warned, I did read an article by a guy who used to do hiring for a blue-collar type place in the rural Midwest, where they hired a lot of young guys, and he specifically called out applications where “it was obvious the guy’s girlfriend had filled out everything except the signature and SSN.” I don’t think they went so far as not hiring those guys, but he did say it was definitely something noticed and negatively commented on by him and others responsible for hiring. I think the connotation is that the guys in question weren’t particularly driven to job-hunt, and wouldn’t be particularly driven on the job either. (I’m also thinking of the letter a few weeks back where a guy’s wife starting contacting people thru his alumni association to try to get him a job, and how weird that struck the LW).

    Probably his best option in the here and now is typing out the applications, but if you write them out for him, it would probably be good to include a note indicating that he has difficulty writing due to medical issues, thus had assistance with the form. That would eliminate any potential knee-jerk “This guy’s GF is the one REALLY running the job hunt, and he’s just signing off on things she puts under his nose.”

    1. nonymous*

      I’m wondering if this could be noted in the ADA section of the application. Some phrasing to indicate that on the job, he will need the reasonable accommodation of being able to type, since he won’t have the assistance of his personal support system to handwrite.

  41. SarahKay*

    OP3, one thing you might want to factor in is how they apologise, and how unusual it is for them to be late.
    If someone is late for the first time in six months, and comes running in, apologising and looking fraught, with a good explanation (e.g. “I’m so sorry I’m late; the bus got stuck in horrible traffic and then diverted and dropped me five blocks away, and of course today is the day I forgot to charge my phone, I’m really sorry.”) then I’d say that’s a good case for letting it go with an “It’s okay.” They clearly know that late is bad, so why pile on the agony?
    If they’re late for the second time in two weeks and stroll in with a casual “sorry I’m late” then that’s a very different deal, and no reason you should say “That’s okay”. I’d want to know why they were late and what they were going to do to prevent it happening again.
    And no-shows with no call are absolutely not something I’d accept a casual apology about. That would be a discussion about what is expected of them and what the consequences are if it happens again.
    FWIW I hate being late and definitely would fall into the first camp. In fact when it did happen (pretty much as described in my example, except it was before the days of mobile phones) my manager was awesome, and said something like “I’m just glad you’re okay, we were beginning to worry about you”. While I’d hoped she wouldn’t be too cross once I explained, her actual response left me filled with gratitude for her being a good manager. So much so that I still remember it 20 years later.

  42. Matilda Jefferies*

    #5, I’d be less worried about how it will impact your future job search, than about what it will be like to work for them *now.* A basic website with contact information, opening hours, and directions would cost them almost nothing, and it’s pretty much a baseline for doing business these days. Okay, so maybe they don’t need it to attract new clients, but what about the clients they already have? If their current clients genuinely don’t care that they don’t have an internet presence, my guess is that most of them are probably seniors. So if that’s the case, they’re going to need to think about sustaining the business when their current customers are no longer with them. They may not need the internet to attract new customers today, but what about in ten years?

    I would also ask some questions about their culture, and about how they handle change. Take a look at the décor – is it all wood panelling and shag carpets? I’m only half kidding about this. They fact that they don’t have a web presence strikes me as really odd, as it obviously does for you as well. Although it’s probably not a dealbreaker on its own, I would be worried about it being indicative of other areas where technology and service delivery are not up to modern standards.

    Of course it’s possible that none of this is an issue for you, and you’d be perfectly happy working in an office that operates like this. If that’s the case, great! All I’m suggesting is that you give it some thought, and if you’re really not comfortable working in a probably old-fashioned office, make sure you find out beforehand if that’s what you’re about to be walking into.

    1. nonegiven*

      Most of my town doesn’t have a web presence. A lot of the bussinesses that do, just have a Facebook page.

  43. Ms. Minn*

    At a previous company, there were conditions for non-exempt hourly employees to qualify for working remotely, including manager approval. The biggest was that you had to have a “good” rating on your previous performance review (basically a 3+ rating out of 5). I feel like that was a fair rule.
    That exempt employees were allowed to work remotely whenever the heck they felt like it (and some were obviously slacking during), didn’t feel fair. But that’s another topic!

  44. 2 Cents*

    #5 – If the place you work for has claimed their Google My Business location (it’s free to do and usually only requires a verification phone call to the main business number), Google actually offers a 1-page website template you can set up to offer a basic description of the business, hours, contact info, etc. It’s not an official website, but it’s perfect for small businesses that don’t feel the need to spend $$ on a web presence. Here’s the link:

  45. Bookworm*

    #2: I’m sympathetic, because I currently telecommute for a very small organization that is very likely to move to a full-time virtual set up within the next year.

    Wonder if it is possible to have measurable metrics in place or to require check ins? I currently have scheduled phone conferences and office meetings on a weekly basis. I once worked at a law firm that began requiring people to email managers to let them know they had arrived for the day because we had no formal “check in” system and I guess there was a problem with people sauntering in after their scheduled start time. Perhaps implementing similar checks would help keep people accountable if management is concerned?

  46. K, Esq.*

    #1: When I was 18, I covered the front desk for a summer at my dad’s office while his secretary was out on maternity leave. The pizza guy delivered lunch for the office, and I took the credit card slip back to the dentist who paid so she could sign. She signed it but didn’t include a tip and said she was heading into surgery. I didn’t have cash and the phone was ringing, so I gave the slip back to the pizza guy. He actually came back a few minutes later and yelled at me over no tip. I couldn’t interrupt surgery over the issue, and wasn’t about to add money on someone else’s credit card without permission. The store’s manager actually called the office later and the doctor added a tip. She was really annoyed over the whole thing.

    You are not responsible for your office mates beings cheapskates. Most delivery people are rational enough to know you have no control over how much the people who order tip.

  47. The Snark Knight*

    RE: #4 This sounds like Dysgraphia I have it as well. I am in IT and it does not affect me at all until I run into situations like the one described. My own writing is entirely illegibile unless I take an inordinate amount of time, and yes, writing is physically painful.

    The work arounds are:
    1)Have someone else fill out the form (as the OP did)
    2)When you know they will want you to fill out a form, show up an extra 10 to 15 minutes early.
    3)Ask if you can attach your resume to the form in lieu of some of the sections
    4)Ask if you can come get the form before the interview date or have it emailed to you.

    The most important thing you can do when you have a disability that may affect part of the job hunting or job performance is to mitigate your own difficulties as much as possible so that your employer/potential employer knows that you don’t see your disabilities as something that will stop you.

    1. OP4*

      It’s not dysgraphia. It’s a genetic disability that affects a lot of other things that aren’t relevant here. But thank you for your input, I hope it helps others.

      1. The Snark Knight*

        OP4, I hope that some of the work-around tactics for dysgraphia can help. I wish you all the best.

  48. RedinSC*

    LW4, My non profit has a paper application. I think it’s annoying and would like for us to create this as an editable PDF, but we’re not there yet. Anyway, I would not be troubled by some one else filling out the app by hand. We might comment on how nice the penmanship is, BUT we probably would not ever even notice a difference in signature, etc.
    I think it’s totally OK for you to fill this out for your BF.

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