Business secretary Sajid Javid MP has waded in on the Côte tipping and service charge controversy, saying that he did not believe the system was fair, and would be looking more closely at the issue.
French-style restaurant chain Côte has today come under fire after an source claiming to be a current staff member spoke to newspaper the London Evening Standard, claiming that the company takes all the service charges, and also refuses to allow staff to pocket any cash tips left at tables.
Côte, which has 72 sites including 30 in London, has today denied the claim that staff are not permitted to take home cash tips for themselves, and has said that it only takes the 12.5% service charge centrally so it can add it to staff members' overall wages in payroll, meaning it can pay all staff a higher rate than the standard minimum wage, including workers in the kitchen as well as those in front-of-house.
The group confirmed it would take disciplinary action if any restaurants were found to be deviating from these policies, and it also said that it does not factor service charges into its revenue calculations, and uses them only to pay staff.
Quoted in the Telegraph, Javid stated: "While it would not be appropriate to comment on this individual case, as far as I'm concerned, tips belong to the staff. As a One Nation Government we're committed to making sure that everyone is paid fairly. I'm getting increasingly concerned about the practice of some restaurants, and will be taking a serious look into the issues raised."
Founded in 2007 by Andy Bassadone and Chris Benians, with funding from Richard Caring, Côte was sold in September 2013 for £100m to private equity firm CBPE, and then sold to another equity firm, BC Partners, for a reported £250m in July this year.
In the UK, there are no standard rules for tipping or service charges, although the latter is usually set at 12.5% whether or not it is compulsory or optional. Often, it is then added to a tronc system, through which all staff receive additional amounts.