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Union presses for action on service charge

22 June 2017 by

The Unite union is set to deliver a petition signed by 6,500 people to the government, calling on it to "hurry up" and release its long-awaited report into tips and service charge.

The Union said it would deliver the petition to business secretary Greg Clark at the offices of the Department of Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) in London on Monday 26 June, marking the first anniversary since a consultation on the issue closed for submissions.

The two-month-long government consultation was launched on 2 May 2016, after an eight-month review into the way in which some of the UK's most popular restaurant chains administered tipping and service charge.

The review, called by then business secretary Sajid Javid, came after a slew of negative national newspaper coverage for a number of restaurant chains over the way in which they retained a proportion of the voluntary service charge added to diners' bills - a practice which they are legally entitled to carry out but which has not proved popular with the wider public.

Dave Turnbull, Unite regional officer, said: "It is now over a year since the then business secretary, Sajid Javid, launched the government's consultation with the words: ‘Tips are for staff, not employers.'

"Unite hailed it as a massive and rightful victory for working people at the time, yet 12 months after it closed, workers and diners are no closer to getting the clarity they deserve, and unscrupulous bosses continue to cream off staff tips.

"In recent months, a slew of upmarket restaurants, including Le Gavroche, The Ivy Collection brasseries, bars and grills and Fortnum & Mason, have been exposed for pocketing some or all of the service charge automatically added to diners' bills for themselves, instead of giving it to staff.

"Greg Clark needs to hurry up; this consultation is the government's chance to prove that it is on the side of low paid workers and not in the pocket of unscrupulous bosses. It is a chance to eliminate the confusion around tips for staff and customers alike, once and for all."

Le Gavroche later scrapped the service charge from diners' bills altogether as a result of the negative publicity the two-Michelin-starred restaurant received following a report in The Guardian. Dishes on the menu rose by 13% to compensate for the removal of the 13% voluntary service charge added to the bill.

Tips, service charges and troncs: what the government proposals mean for hospitality >>

Bill's embroiled in service charge controversy >>

Le Gavroche to scrap service charge >>

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