Diner ‘flabbergasted’ to find 3.5% surcharge on restaurant bill – to cover staff’s health insurance

A TikTok user said she was ‘flabbergasted’ at a health coverage charge on her bill (TikTok / @killjill)
A TikTok user said she was ‘flabbergasted’ at a health coverage charge on her bill (TikTok / @killjill)

Tipping culture and American healthcare have both come under attack on TikTok after a woman said she received a surcharge for staff insurance coverage on a recent restaurant bill.

TikTok user @killjill said in a recent video that she was eating brunch at a restaurant with friends when she noticed a 3.5 per cent surcharge for “staff benefits” on her bill.

She said when she asked a restaurant worker what the “staff benefits” charge was for, they told her the charge was to cover healthcare for staff at the restaurant.

The TikTok user said she was “flabbergasted” that customers were being asked to pay for restaurant workers’ health care and said in the now viral video: “I recently found another example of why I hate living in the US.”

“So you’re telling me every two weeks, it’s money taken out of my check to pay for my health insurance just so when I go to the doctor I still [have to] pay them more money to treat me, and then pay more money to get my meds from the pharmacy. And now companies are allowed to put the burden for paying for their employees healthcare on customers? Like what?” she fumed.

While tipping is common in the US, restaurants are not always obligated to provide health insurance coverage for workers if a business employs less than 50 staff full-time, according to the National Restaurant Association.

According to hospitality news site Restaurant Dive, only about a third of restaurants surveyed in the US in 2019 offer health coverage to their employees and as few as 13 per cent said they offered paid family leave in a 2019 study.

Many big names make up the majority of those hospitality workers receiving health care, which companies are incentivised to pay for to retain workers, the study said.

Campaigners have long called for greater rights for restaurant and hospitality staff, who also face minimum wages in many states.

On TikTok, many criticised restaurant owners for the health charge on @killjill’s bill and said companies – rather than customers – should pay for the benefit.

“They really making us pay their employees a livable wage AND their insurance,” commented one person.

“They couldn’t just inflate the prices, they had to put on the itemised ticket that it’s for their benefits? Unbelievable,” added another.