The Wahaca ‘wage theft’ incident reinforces the need for government ministers to stop dragging their feet and introduce the promised new laws to stop management’s abuse of tips, Unite, Britain and Ireland’s largest union, said today (Monday 17 June).

Responding to reports that a waiter at a Wahaca restaurant was forced to foot the bill after customers did a runner, Dave Turnbull Unite regional officer said: “The Wahaca incident reinforces calls on this government and the next Conservative party leader to keep its promise to bring in new laws to stop employers abusing tips.

“In our experience, staff are often forced to hand over their hard earned tips to cover the costs of all kinds of things, from customers doing a runner without paying, to till shortages and breakages.

“As part of this call we are re-issuing a short video to urge the government to act:

“This is precisely the reason that Unite has been campaigning for over a decade for new laws to ban rip off tip scams. It’s why we declared a victory for restaurant workers when the government finally promised new legislation to stop employers from making deductions from tips at the Conservative Party conference last September.

“Time and again our members are told that these abuses are standard industry practice. Well any policy that forces minimum-waged staff to fork out from their own pockets is a bad practice and must stop.

“Making minimum waged staff hand over their hard earned tips to cover the cost of customers doing a runner without paying is outrageous enough.  But employers should be aware that deducting cash from a waiter’s wages could be illegal if it takes workers below the minimum wage. It’s wage theft.

“Unite is urging all workers to get in touch if they feel they’re being ripped off in this way via the website at


Note to editors

Unite has been campaigning for Fair Tips for over a decade, by urging the government to introduce new legislation to ensure that staff keep 100 per cent of customer tips, that tipping policies are clear and on display, and that employers are banned from deducting from tips.

This is not the first time that Wahaca has been caught out; in 2015, the Mexican chain was accused of making waiters pay to work, by deducting a 3.3 per cent table levy on waiting staff:

For more information please contact Unite campaigns coordinator Chantal Chegrinec on 020 3371 2063 or 07774 146 777. Unite press office is on:  020 3371 2065

Email: [email protected]

Unite is Britain and Ireland’s largest union with members working across all sectors of the economy. The general secretary is Len McCluskey.