“STOP STEALING OUR TIPS!”

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When you give a tip in a restaurant it may not all be going to the worker as you intend. Instead, the company may be taking a hefty chunk of it.

Pizza Express, for example, recently decided to increase from 30 percent to 50 percent the amount that is deducted from the tips received by waiting staff.

The government had promised to address this problem. They first promised to introduce fair tips legislation in 2018 and the measure was included in the 2019 Queen’s Speech but no bill was introduced.

The lack of fair tips legislation, combined with the pandemic has created a huge fall in earnings for waiting staff.

One union, Unite, has written to the secretary of state for business Kwasi Kwarteng, stating the disappointment of hospitality workers that the government has failed to introduce legislation to introduce fair tips nor has it introduced “a code of practice to ensure fairness, transparency and genuine consultation on the allocation and management of tips”.

In its letter, Unite warns that as the hospitality sector opens up, experienced workers are increasingly reluctant to return due to low pay which is made worse by tips deductions. The letter says: “employers are again interfering with tips allocation and distribution, resulting in substantial cuts in amounts received. This combined with the acceleration of cashless pay and home deliveries has created a perfect storm which has effectively wiped out the value of the 2020 and 2021 uplifts in the national living wage and the national minimum wage.

Unite officer for hospitality Dave Turnbull said: “A successful hospitality sector is essential for the recovery of the UK economy, but its return to health will be stifled by severe staff shortages until workers are paid fairly and properly. The Conservative government has continued to promise to introduce fair tips legislation and has equally failed to deliver on its warm words.

Hospitality workers can’t wait for promises on the never, never, they need action on tips now. When legislation is finally introduced it is essential that it is free of loopholes and action is taken to curtail the unethical use of troncs which unscrupulous employers use to divert tips away from waiting staff.

Patrick Harrington, General Secretary of Solidarity, supported Unite saying: “As someone who benefited from tips when I worked in catering first as an agency waiter when a student and between jobs and second as a Restaurant Manager on the Railways when younger I know how important tips can be. When I give a tip I want to know that the worker who I want to reward for good customer service gets it. I support hospitality and catering workers when they say ‘stop stealing our tips!’.

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