How much should I tip my housekeeper? My husband says we should tip the bare minimum. I say 30%. Who’s right?

By Quentin Fottrell

‘I feel like we should tip people 30% for the effort to get into our house’

Dear Quinten,

I am a mother of one child and have a busy career. How much should I tip my cleaning lady? My husband says we shouldn’t tip her that much, probably about 10 to 15%, because we use an app and don’t get the same lady every time.

She also doesn’t do a thorough cleaning and she uses all of our stuff, such as our mops and cleaning products. I feel like we should tip people 30% for the effort to get into our house. Plus, I personally want to tip with cash, not through the Handy app.

I want her to feel the money is coming from me. And if she continues to work for us, I want her to feel happy in our home and do a good job. My husband says we should just take the most efficient route and tip the minimum on the app.

Who’s right?

Large Tipper

Dear Big Tipper,

There is a lot of confidence involved in inviting someone to your home on a regular basis, especially if they have keys and access to your most personal belongings. For that reason, you should choose a housekeeper that you like – and who does a good job.

It is a good idea to stick with one person as you will build a relationship with them over time. They will get to know you and your family and your routines. Likewise, you will have more flexibility and reporting if you employ the same person every week.

My idea is to tip your housekeeper at least 20% every week. So if you pay her $100, tip her $20. Or give her a tip at the end of the year equal to at least three weeks’ wages. If you tip her weekly, buy her a personalized gift for the holidays.

But if you think 30% is fair, then at least that’s generous, and there’s no right or wrong answer. There is no rule book. Everyone takes a different approach. (Emily Post suggests a small gift or a week’s wages as a year-end tip. That seems a little too modest to me.)

This commitment is also accompanied by an expression of goodwill. People want to be paid fairly, they want to be appreciated and they want to be seen. If she makes the effort to clean up after you every week, you should make the effort to get to know her.

As you build a relationship and build a safe space for conversations, it’s never a bad time to elevate things beyond mere transaction. Ask her about her family and her story. You will probably learn a lot, and it will give you new respect and admiration for her.

I was a guest for two months during the early days of the pandemic. I was usually home when the housekeeper arrived, and I learned a lot about Georgia, the former Soviet Republic, and about the years of poverty and political instability after the collapse of the Soviet Union.

She said they had a very unreliable electricity supply in the 1990s, when Georgia was again an independent state. Her children, she said, belonged to “the lost generation.” Her young son once came home with a machine gun left behind by Russian troops.

She told me her Georgian name and showed me FaceTime videos of her family back home. She had never met her grandchildren and was saving money so she could build a house in Georgia for her extended family and return there one day.

Too often, janitors and cleaning staff in offices who work out of hours are overlooked. They come in after most of the people have gone home and are quietly working. If you ever work overtime, it’s a gift, a privilege, and an opportunity to meet the staff outside of office hours.

So I’m with you: tip generously, provide supplies (they’re heavy to carry around), and stick with one housekeeper who can rely on you for regular work. And recommend her to friends. Word of mouth is powerful and, as any freelancer will tell you, every little bit helps.

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Also read:

What Alice from ‘The Brady Bunch’ would earn today

Is this the most outrageous tip request you’ve ever heard? ‘I looked at the salesman with a confused expression’

I was not feeling well last month and asked my housekeeper to stay at home. I’m nervous that she has to come back. She asked for ‘unpaid wages’. What should I do?

-Quentin Fottrell


(END) Dow Jones Newswires

22-09-22 1521ET

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