Proposals floated by the government to cap the amount in tips that a restaurant can deduct from waiting staff have been firmly rejected by the union representing hospitality workers, Unite.
The union said that while it was relieved that the government was taking seriously the problems caused for restaurant workers by their employers keeping a proportion of the tips they earn, it urged business secretary Sajid Javid not to introduce a system that will make it lawful for an employer to pocket a proportion of staff’s tips.
Commenting, Unite officer for the hospitality sector Dave Turnbull said: “We are pleased that the government has woken up to this scandal but we would ask that it thinks carefully about an effective solution.
"Capping admin fees will simply legitimise the underhand practice of restaurants taking a slice of staff tips and be near enough impossible to enforce. When customers eat at the likes of Pizza Express they give tips in the expectation that all of it will go to staff and not be pocketed by management. Only last week Giraffe scrapped its 10 per cent admin fee on tips, joining chains like Restaurant Group and Jamie Oliver's to play fair with staff.
“Rather than tinkering around the edges, Sajid Javid should be looking to scrap what is effectively a tax by restaurant bosses on money meant for the pockets of hardworking staff. The principle ought to be that the tips go to those who have earned them, plain and simple.
“Further, who would police this system? The government agencies responsible for regulating the system now are already seriously underresourced and can’t keep across abuses – they just would not be able to cope with this additional burden. I appeal to the minister to discuss with us on how to make this work as a great deal of thought has already gone into this.
“The reality is that the problems now before us could have been headed off years ago. Had the government been true to its word in the last parliament and honoured the code agreed with employer and consumer groups, and the unions representing waiting staff, then the issue of who keeps the tips would have been addressed.
“The minister needs to understand that the only way forward is the most just way – let the workers keep their tips.”
Unite says that the failure of the coalition government to honour the pledge by the last Labour government to ensure a proper review of the code of practice governing tipping practices has contributed to the present day situation whereby, in the main, chain restaurants take a hefty share of the workers’ tips. The union believes that the British Hospitality Association’s code, which is a much watered down version of that agreed by a cross-sector of industry stakeholders, ought to be given no legitimacy by the government.
For further information please contact Unite press office on 07967 665869 or 07976 832 861.
Notes to editors:
- Unite is Britain and Ireland’s largest trade union with over 1.4 million members working across all sectors of the economy. The general secretary is Len McCluskey.