Hospitality operators have made a last-minute plea to the Government to delay implementation of law that will make it illegal to top up minimum wage with tips.
The call to the Department for Business came ahead of today's end of a three-month consultation on the proposals.
The department said that the initial response to the consultation suggested that there was "significant support" for the proposals and said that the cost to the industry would be between £7m and £73m a year
However, the British Hospitality Association (BHA) warned that the true cost would be nearer £400m a year and that the industry needed more time to minimise the impact.
"We believe that the consultation paper seriously underestimates the number of people involved and the cost to employers," a BHA spokesman said. "There is little doubt that the legislation will go through, but we are saying to the Government that this is not the right time to do it.'
Last week, the Unite union held a demonstration outside the House of Commons calling on the Government to close the loophole.
It came as a YouGov survey of nearly 2,200 consumers, commissioned by campaign group Consumer Focus, revealed that 94% believe all tips "should always go to the staff with no deductions by restaurant owners".
Len McCluskey, Unite assistant general secretary, said: "The message from workers and consumers to the Government on tips is undeniably strong. It must ensure employers in the hospitality industry give a decent living wage with 100% of tips added on top."
By Daniel Thomas
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