People Who Aren't Allowed To Accept Your Tips

In the US, tipping is an expected courtesy for exceptional service, but there are certain people who can't accept tips, regardless of the quality of their work. No matter how much you appreciate the service of a flight attendant, they are not allowed to accept gratuity. Sometimes, a specific establishment will ban tipping, as they pay their workers fair wages without gratuity. A few of the hottest restaurants in New York City have started adjusting their prices so that their employees don't have to rely on tips.

However, some worldwide corporations don’t allow their workers to accept tips at any time, even if their employees are working for minimum wage. When the good people who work at McDonald's decline your tip, they're not being rude or unappreciative, it's simply not their decision. 

Photo: user uploaded image

  • Flight Attendants
    Photo: Oxfordian Kissuth / Wikimedia Commons / CC BY-SA 3.0

    Flight Attendants

    On paper, it may seem like flight attendants are providing a service, and therefore should be classified as being part of the service industry. However, legally speaking, the people who work in the sky are considered safety professionals. According to Travel + Leisure, flight attendants make an average of about $18 an hour, which is well over the average minimum wage seen in most developed countries. As a result, most airlines have a company policy that bans flight attendants from accepting tips from passengers.

  • USPS Mail Carriers
    Photo: joseph barillari / Wikimedia Commons / CC BY-SA 3.0

    USPS Mail Carriers

    Employees at the US Postal Service are not allowed to receive cash tips or gift cards, even on holidays. There are clear rules on what is allowed and what is not allowed in their Employee Tipping and Gift-Receiving Policy:

    All postal employees, including carriers, must comply with the Standards of Ethical Conduct for Employees of the Exec­utive Branch. Under these federal regulations, carriers are permitted to accept a gift worth $20 or less from a customer per occasion, such as Christmas. However, cash and cash equivalents, such as checks or gift cards that can be exchanged for cash, must never be accepted in any amount. Furthermore, no employee may accept more than $50 worth of gifts from any one customer in any one calendar year period.

    If you decide to give a postal employee a gift worth more than $20, they are required to reimburse you out of their own pocket. Since employees probably have a better idea of how they want to spend their money than you do, it's best to refrain from giving them luxurious gifts. 

  • Uber Drivers (In Some States)
    Photo: Alexander Torrenegra / Wikimedia Commons / CC BY 2.0

    Uber Drivers (In Some States)

    Originally, Uber did not want its customers to tip their drivers, as the company claimed the tip was already built into the price of the ride. Recently, however, the company has added a tipping option into the app that allows passengers to tip their driver for up to 30 days after their ride. Of course, riders have the option to tip in cash as well.

    However, in 13 states, it's illegal to give a cash tip to an Uber driver because of regulations that define the drivers as part of a "transportation network company." These types of companies are often forbidden from carrying out cash transactions, which technically includes tipping.

    State governments consider it dangerous for drivers to carry loads of cash while working. The Boston Globe expanded upon this issue, saying: 

    Over the last three years, 13 states have passed laws restricting cash payments in some form. While none of the laws explicitly mention gratuity, there’s widespread agreement that most — if not all – of these rules apply to cash tips. Supporters of these rules have said they’re inspired by driver safety concerns. Each state’s restrictions are a little different, with some only banning the solicitation of payments and others banning any cash changing hands.

  • McDonald's Employees
    Photo: McDonald's / Facebook

    McDonald's Employees

    Although it is not custom to give a tip when ordering food at a restaurant counter, some customers will still provide a small gratuity for counter service. However, patrons are not allowed to tip their cashiers, or anyone working at McDonald's, due to the company's internal policy. The higher-ups at corporate McDonald's feel that the fast food chain is all about teamwork, and frown upon rewarding an individual. Despite this team-player attitude, the company has repeatedly been criticized for underpaying their workers, many of whom cannot survive on a full-time, non-tipped salary. 


  • Servers At Several High-End Restaurants
    Photo: Per Se / Facebook

    Servers At Several High-End Restaurants

    In 2005, Thomas Keller — who was a chef at Per Se, one of the most expensive and celebrated restaurants in New York City — did away with tipping entirely. Keller replaced tipping with a flat service fee of 20% added to every bill. Another high end Manhattan sushi restaurant, Sush Yashunda, also banned tipping and raised menu prices so they could afford to pay their waitstaff a livable salary.

    In light of this, many high-end restaurants around the country now follow a "no-tip" model. Instead, the restaurant pays their employees a living wage, so they do not have to rely on tips. San Francisco restaurant critic Michael Bauer is totally on-board with restaurants that have banned tipping altogether, and thinks many other establishments will follow suit. "It’s civilized — and the wave of the future," said Bauer. 

  • Employees At Walmart
    Photo: Walmart / Facebook

    Employees At Walmart

    It is not customary to tip a cashier or retail associate at Walmart, or at a department store like Sears or Macy's. However, if an employee helps you unload a cart full of groceries, should you tip that person? 

    Not at Walmart, where it is against company policy for an employee to take any form of tip. Under their Gifts and Gratuities guidelines page, it clearly states, "It is our policy that associates of the Company, regardless of their capacity, do not accept for their personal benefits, gratuities, tips, cash, samples, etc. from anyone buying or selling to us, or in any way serving our company."