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Change to tipping legislation a ‘total failure', says Unite

01 October 2010 by
Change to tipping legislation a ‘total failure', says Unite

The change in law preventing hospitality operators from using tips to make up staff pay to minimum wage levels has "totally failed", according to the Unite union.

The change in legislation, which came into force a year ago following the union's two-year Fair Tips campaign, closed a loophole which previously allowed employers to pay staff less than minimum wage (currently £5.93) and use gratuities to top up wages.

Last October, the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills (BIS) published a voluntary code of best practice on service charges and tips, which Unite claims has been ignored by many operators. The union says that waiting staff are still not getting fair tips as there is still no legal requirement for operators to pass them on to staff.

Unite and waiting staff are protesting today outside the BIS in London to highlight that despite the change in law they are still being denied the fair tips they fought for.

"Unite has found that one year on from the campaign there are still too many employers who regard tips as a subsidy for low pay and who see the tips and service charge money left by customers as a pot of cash to which they are free to help themselves to," said Unite officer Dave Turnbull.

"Unite members working in restaurants, hotels and bars across the country have seen establishments increase the percentage of service charge they deduct from their pay packets. Workers expected their employers to hear the demands of consumers last year to pass all the money they intended for staff to them. Instead many businesses have chosen to continue business as usual and profit from the gratuity charges."

Turnbull urged the Government to act to implement the review, which he said has been a "total failure". "If the bosses do not do the right thing and pass the tips and service charge money to the waiters and waitresses, then consumers will lose faith in this sector," he said.

A BIS spokesman said: "The law is clear - tips must not be used to make up the national minimum wage. Enforcers are specifically targeting the hospitality sector; this includes making sure that the new law on tips isn't flouted."

Tipping point: the debate continues on service charges and gratuities >>

Using tips to make up minimum wage to be outlawed >>

Rulings on tips draws mixed feelings from the industry >>

By Kerstin Kühn

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