The government must introduce long promised legislation to prevent employers ripping off tips given to staff, Unite, the UK’s leading union, has said after Pizza Express became the latest restaurant to unfairly deduct staff tips. 

Tips cut

On May 17, the day restaurants reopened after lockdown, Pizza Express increased the 30 per cent previously deducted from waiting staff tips to 50 per cent. 

The deduction is being used to boost the wages of kitchen workers by depriving minimum wage waiting staff of a sizable chunk of their income. 

Underpaid kitchen staff

Unite believes Pizza Express has increased tip deductions so that it doesn’t have to pay kitchen staff competitive wages. 

Despite promising to tackle such tipping abuses three times – in 2016, 2018 and during the Queen’s Speech in 2019 – the Tories have failed to introduce legislation that would do so.

Unite has waged a long running campaign for fair tips and has been critical of the government’s inaction.

Poor treatment of waiting staff

Unite national officer for hospitality, Dave Turnbull, said: “Unfortunately Pizza Express, like far too many hospitality employers, appears to see its members of staff less as human beings and more as assets to be used or disposed of at will.

 “It was only a few months ago that Pizza Express fired 2,500 loyal employees instead of registering them on the job retention scheme. Now the company is seeking to hire 1,000 workers, a process made more difficult by sector-wide labour shortages.

 “But rather than pay kitchen workers competitive wages to attract applications, Pizza Express is boosting back of house pay by depriving its minimum wage waiting staff of their hard-earned tips, which form a substantial part of their income. This policy will only lead to more staffing problems, as poorly remunerated workers vote with their feet and potential new hires decide to apply elsewhere.

 “Hospitality employers like Pizza Express should not be taking advantage of low paid waiting staff and pitting its employees against each other. Instead, restaurants should pay their kitchen workers a decent wage and allow front of house staff 100 per cent of their hard-earned tips. 

 “In an ideal world waiting staff would be paid enough not to rely on tips. The unlikelihood of that happening, however, means Unite is calling on the government to deliver on its 2019 Queen’s Speech commitment and bring in its promised Fair Tips legislation. This must include a statutory code which provides access to remedy for workers who believe Tronc decisions are being unfairly manipulated to the benefit of their employer.”


Notes to editors:

During the coronavirus crisis Unite is working to keep workers and the public safe, to defend jobs and to protect incomes.

For media enquiries ONLY please contact Unite senior communications officer Barckley Sumner on 07802 329235 or 0203 371 2067.

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.