The Government has given its clearest signal yet that it may get involved in the contentious but legal practice of using waiting staff's tips to top up the National Minimum Wage (NMW).
In a response to a parliamentary question by Labour MP Jim Sheridan last week about the practice Secretary of State, John Hutton said the Government was "seriously looking into" the issue.
Sheridan claimed consumers were subsidising "unscrupulous" employers, backing the unions' position that staff in effect take a pay-cut when on holiday or off ill.
Under current rules non-cash tips, which are paid to employees through the pay-roll, can be used to make up their hourly pay to NMW level. Cash tips can not.
Raj Gill, GMB union secretary for hotel and catering workers in London said it was high time the matter was dealt with. "Employers are muscling in on the money customers have paid to staff to make up for paltry wages."
Gill called for the current loophole in the rules to be changed so that tips could never be counted towards NMW.
Last month Unite, which launched a campaign calling for transparency over tips last summer, protested over the sacking of PizzaExpress manager Nabil Guirguis who it claims was fired over speaking out about the chain's policy on tips.
By Gemma Sharkey
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