UK: Waiters to be paid all tips under new law, Theresa May says

Waitress reading specials to people in restaurant

Restaurants will be legally barred from keeping tips from staff under plans to be announced by Theresa May on Monday.

High street chains including Prezzo, Strada and Zizzi will be forced to pass on all service charges to workers, the prime minister said.

The move follows a public outcry over the practice by some restaurants of skimming off a share of tips.

Labour said the government had copied another of its policies, which the party announced in June.

Jeremy Corbyn said a Labour government would legislate to ensure workers keep 100% of their tips, putting an end to practices that has seen tips deducted by some businesses.

Mrs May said the “tough” legislation, which would apply in England, Scotland and Wales, was part of the government’s push to end exploitative employment practices.

Her vow comes three years after a government consultation found restaurant customers overwhelmingly supported tips going to waiting staff, rather than proprietors.

In 2016 Sajid Javid, then business secretary, said tips should go in full to waiting staff and announced proposals to stop employer deductions from them, but stopped short of legislating.

Chains including Belgo, Bella Italia, Cafe Rouge, Giraffe, Prezzo and Strada have been criticised for making deductions of 10% from service charges, while Zizzi and Ask have both taken 8%.

Workers at TGI Fridays outlets held a series of strikes earlier this year over a new pay policy that redistributes customer tips from waiters to kitchen staff.

There are about 150,000 hotels, pubs and restaurants in the UK, employing about two million people.

Shadow business secretary Rebecca Long-Bailey said it was the fourth policy that the Conservatives had copied from Labour.

“It’s a shame that Unite have had to fight so hard to extract this concession from the Tories,” she said.

Unite regional officer Dave Turnbull said cracking down on tipping abuses was long overdue and the union would seek assurances that the legislation truly delivered fair tips.

“There will be question marks as to whether it will deal with the myriad of scams some restaurants use to pilfer staff tips to boost their profits, in addition to dealing with unjust situation at TGI Fridays, who use tips left for waiting staff to subsidise the low wages of skilled kitchen staff,” he said.

Kate Nicholls. chief executive of trade association Hospitality UK, said earlier this year that the industry had worked with the union Unite on a code of good practice for tipping.

“The industry is self-regulating – we don’t need legislation,” she told the BBC.

Credit: BBC

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