Michelin chefs back calls for government to close tips loophole

17 July 2008
Michelin chefs back calls for government to close tips loophole

Marco Pierre White, Mark Hix, Giorgio Locatelli and the editor of the Michelin Guide have all backed calls for the Government to close the loophole allowing restaurants to use tips to make up the minimum wage.

The Independent newspaper, which this week launched a campaign for a fairer distribution of tips, today reported it has received widespread support from the industry.

It also revealed that the Government allowed the tips loophole as part of a secret compromise with the hospitality industry to ensure minimum wage legislation would get through unopposed 10 years ago.

Ian McCartney, who was part of the Department of Trade and Industry at the time, said: "I put my hand up. It was a compromise. There was a genuine desire for a consensus over the minimum wage. We didn't want business to undermine it."

He accused restaurants of abusing the loophole. "A service charge is for service, to show the goodwill of the customer. It should not be a contribution to paying wages, which should already be covered in the meal costs."

Marco Pierre White, Britain's first chef to be awarded three Michelin stars, said: "Staff work very hard and I think all tips should go to them."

Mark Hix said he had been "shocked" by some of the practices employed by restaurant owners.

Derek Bulmer, editor of Britain's Michelin Guide, said he would seriously consider divulging what happens to money left by customers for service alongside reviews of each of restaurant.

"Anything that improves the mess that exists at the moment would be welcome," he added.

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By Daniel Thomas

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