The world of employment has evolved persistently. Management structures and work paradigms are radically different today than they were before COVID. There was a great deal of give and take in the COVID response, but in retrospect, there has been much evolution in the last few decades. The world of work has been impacted by many outside forces, not the least of which is technology. See These are the Good Old Days (December 2022), and the links there.
The scope of economic change and the workplace is interrelated. Those automation techniques and programs are each largely directed at controlling the cost of labor in the process of employer production or service. Labor is a persistent challenge for business, in terms of predictability, consistency, and expense. From self-service check outs in retail to ordering kiosks in fast food, there is a focus on the cost of labor. The Coming Autimation (November 2017); Tech is Changing Work (November 2018). Personnel are expensive in direct (wages) and indirect (recruiting, training) ways. 
We have all witnessed the invasion of tipping. That practice used to be focused in high-end restaurants. I remember in my youth that it was expected and tradition even in simple restaurants, simple but "sit-down"; there was never even a suggestion of tipping at a buffet or "order at the counter" in the old days. There was never an implication of the idea of tipping when visiting a fast food restaurant in the 70s or 80s or 90s, with the notable exception of the places where a "car-hop" would bring the food to your vehicle and hang a tray on your window. That was a real thing that some may still experience in a handfull of businesses that cling to that model.
There are those who find tipping downright untoward. Time magazine asserts that its history dates to the civil war, and attributes it to "the legacy of slavery." The New York Times parrots that conclusion or allegation. They are both behind a pay wall (you have to tip them to read their content and look at their advertiser's wares). Politico has a similar article that is perhaps more egalitarian. Tipping is a topic upon which many have opinions. 
The europeans are not big on tipping, but it occurs according to one travel expert. Others warn that it is seen as rude in some countries like Japan and China. Having been advised not to tip in Europe, I was out of the habit while travelling there. In a very tourist-centric and famous beer hall, the waiter pointedly and repeatedly reminded us that the "tip is not included." When I asked how much was appropriate, he boldy said 20%. That was intriguing. 
It is fair to say that tipping in America has been under assault for years, but only in that there exist exceptions to the minmum wage attributed to the reality of tipping. The government has recognized the potential or probability of tipping for years, and the value of tips can be attributed to workers and thus diminish the minimum wage that government mandate forces upon the historically contractual employee/employer relationships. Like workers' compensation, the "minimum wage" is a government intrusion into people's broader right to contract.
But, Yahoo news has recently reported that tipping us under attack in a broader context. No one is advocating that the practice cease in restaurants, delivery businesses, and similar traditional settings. The American consumer is, however, increasingly disppointed in and resistant to the expansion of tipping that marks the twenty-first century. Simply stated, people are "tired of being asked to leave a gratuity for a muffin or a simple cup of coffee at their neighborhood bakery." Some wonder how far that trend might go.
The current trend and criticism is being fed by the digital payment paradigm. In the olden days, we folks used to carry around government certificates in our pockets. We would use those certificated to pay for goods and services. We called it cash, but most would have no clue why that word was chosen. Many believe the idea of a box in which value was stored evolved to "cash," from foreign words describing such boxes. Similarly, despite our largely British habits left over from colonialism, the word "dollar" has Austrian or German roots. But, the point is we used to use "money" in its physical form. Today, most of us use a card, our phone, or some other proxy for money.
The trend to electronic payment, according to Yahoo, has led to increasing tendency of employers to ask the customer to help pay the staff's wages. This could be easily done by pricing the product or service at a rate sufficient to pay the wages. But, in a competitive market (sales), with socialistic economic government constraints (minimum wage), there is seemingly a perception that the "contribution" (tip) method presents a better image or price point on the menu. 
But, the idea has been expanding. In today's consumer environment, "customers are automatically being prompted to leave a gratuity - many times as high as 30%." And, in addition to being asked to leave these hefty amounts, the breadth of businesses adopting a tipping paradigm is perceived as expanding. As a sidenote, in my day a 15% tip was pretty generous. Before you beat me up too much, know (1) I am boomer, (2) I have worked for tips, and (3) I am not anti-tipping. Some etiqute pages say 15% is adequate for normal service, and perhaps 20% for exceptional service. This page mentions "more," but there is no mention of 30%, per se.
Pre-COVID, it was somewhat rare that a tip would be mentioned in a "pick-up" order setting. As businesses and workers struggled through that time, it became quite common to tip for take-out and often to tip significantly. The theory was that employees were at work, but their in-house customers were either minimized by the virus fear or completely absent due to government constraints. Thus, there was a sentiment to tip when picking up food. And, in the great confusion and undertanty of the pandemic, the tipping seemed appropriate. 
But, the Yahoo article notes that tipping is expanding, or at least the pleas for tips are expanding. There are busineses such as dry cleaners, convenience stores (gas stations), mortgage companies, and others that are asking you to pitch in for the labor cost of the business. Mortgage companies? And, that is seen by some as intrusive, or as one "etiquette expert" call it, "an invasion.” Well, Normandie it is not, but an assault on consumers? Perhaps.
There is a perception that these "contribution opportunities" are creating a "social pressure" to contribute and that they may be "difficult to bypass." The old "everyone is doing it" saw comes to mind, and we saw that during the viral spiral. Remember, if you "run with the crowd, you will neve get farther than the crowd." That quote has various attributions, but it makes a lot of sense. If one departs from the crowd and declines to leave a tip at the dry cleaners, is that stingy, mean, or unenlightened? Or, is the gall of asking for a tip at the dry cleaner outside the lines?
There are multiple perspectives. Some who depend on tips find those who don't tip to be droll. One is quoted by Yahoo. He is a coffee maker that earns $15.00 per hour as a wage, but enjoys the added income from tips. He percieves the issue from the standpoing of his enjoyment of that money and is unsympathetic with someone reluctant to be generous with their money. He recites a class-conflict saw that if the customer is able to afford "pricey coffee," then they can afford to tip. Ah, Karl Marx in modern America. You can pay, and I can use the money, so you should pay because you can, ipso facto. When the barista is not tipped, is makes him feel bad, or sad.
I am admittedly somewhat sympathetic to his logic path. Thus, I make it a point not to visit "pricey coffee" shops. Those businesses do not appeal to me and so I defer. Instead, I will find other businesses to frequent for products I am willing to consume at the posted price. So, while the barista may sound a bit like Marx, perhaps his argument is pure capitalism. If one does not like the proposed construct, the being asked to tip at a particular business, then merely stop using that business. 
If that business therefore has to lay off employees, that is unfortunate. But that the business and employees suffer from the tip-coercing course is not really different than suffering from a decision to use cheaper ingredients in its product. The business is free to make its product and ask its tip question, and the consumer is free to do business there or not. 
I am not apparently alone, though perhaps in a minority. The Yahoo article notes perspective from other consumers. They decry the pressure of tipping, and lament that pressure of being asked. One notes that consumers are "paying for something that they really don’t want to pay for, or they’re tipping when they really don’t want to tip." She notes that there is guilt or shame associated with the inquiry and outcome - be it bowing to the pressure or declining to contribute. One expert is quoted that "research shows" some customers "might be less likely to come back to a particular business if they are feeling irritated by the requests."
Etiquitte authors are quoted with their perspectives on when and how to tip. They stress that tipping is a personal choice, and should not be a source of embarassment. As consummers, we should know that the digital (r)evolution is impacting the tipping practice. Research is cited that purportedly shows that tipping in that electronic transiation is common and often generous. Overall, tipping is increasing. Some claim tipping has shown "continuous growth" in recent years. And, many consumers are bowing to the construct.
The trend is seemingly established. Each financial exchange in which we engage may eventually include the "tip jar," whether real or digital. As consumers generously contribute, the motivation for businesses to persist in that paradigm will continue and perhaps expand. If the irritation rises instead, those businesses may be less likely to engage the paradigm and prehaps more likely still to turn to technology and other substitutes for labor. 
In that vein, there may be similar revolt. I know people that will fill a cart in the store and if they find no cashier on duty, they will abandon the cart where it stands instead of using a self check out. It is, for them, as much of a non-starter as the tip suggestion. In all, it will be an exchange and will remain in flux as consumers and business negotiate the challenge that is an economic exchange.
By Judge David Langham
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    About The Author

    • Judge David Langham

      David Langham is the Deputy Chief Judge of Compensation Claims for the Florida Office of Judges of Compensation Claims at the Division of Administrative Hearings. He has been involved in workers’ compensation for over 25 years as an attorney, an adjudicator, and administrator. He has delivered hundreds of professional lectures, published numerous articles on workers’ compensation in a variety of publications, and is a frequent blogger on Florida Workers’ Compensation Adjudication. David is a founding director of the National Association of Workers’ Compensation Judiciary and the Professional Mediation Institute, and is involved in the Southern Association of Workers’ Compensation Administrators (SAWCA) and the International Association of Industrial Accident Boards and Commissions (IAIABC). He is a vocal advocate of leveraging technology and modernizing the dispute resolution processes of workers’ compensation.

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