Restaurant and pub trade body the Association of Licensed Multiple Retailers (ALMR) and the Unite union have jointly launched a code to promote good tipping practices.
The code, the finer details of which are still to be determined, sets out "good tronc principles" for the fair and transparent pooling and distribution of tips, service charges and gratuities in the UK hospitality industry.
The working partnership between Unite and the ALMR aims to clear up the confusion that exists around tipping for staff and customers.
The jointly agreed principles of a good tronc include:
•Transparent and open in its dealings - all tronc rules, decisions and methods of allocation readily accessible and available to all staff. Tronc to be audited quarterly by staff who are not the troncmaster or tronc committee.
•Fair and genuine allocation - no hidden charges or admin fees imposed by employer. No deductions for walkouts, breakages, performance.
•Genuine engagement - genuine and meaningful consultation with all staff on any changes to rules and process proposed by troncmaster and tronc committee before decisions are agreed.
•Provides for dispute resolution.
Unite regional officer, Dave Turnbull said: "Unite is pleased to have joined forces with the ALMR to create a code which seeks to bring greater fairness and transparency to tipping for customers and staff.
"Much of the confusion and mistrust around tips and service charges has been caused because customers and staff have been kept in the dark over how they are shared out and who gets what.
"The code is a work in progress with both sides committed to making this work in the interests of all concerned. At the heart of the Unite/ALMR code is an agreed position on the need for greater tipping transparency. Giving staff a say in how tips are shared out is a step in the right direction."
ALMR chief executive Kate Nicholls said: "It is important that a workable and transparent code is in place to ensure that tips are dealt with fairly and legally.
"Venues carry out an important tax collecting role when they distribute tips and this must be acknowledged. We also want a system that rewards staff members and ensures that those employees working hard to earn their tips do not miss out.
"The ALMR is proud to have worked with Unite to establish a set of principles that offer our support to those people who make the UK's innovative and lively eating and drinking out sector such a success. This code will provide employers, employees and customers with peace of mind that tips are being distributed legally and fairly."
A full copy of the code is expected to be published soon. Peter Davies, managing director of WMT accountants, who is also party to the discussions said that finer detail of the code was still to be determined. "The objective is that this code will meet what consumers, employees and their representatives, and what businesses are looking for. Whatever is proposed has to be practical and workable, and for all sectors including small, independent businesses - the last thing we would want is competing codes. Everyone would agree that transparency and openness is very important," he said.
Unite and the ALMR will monitor the implementation of the code and have established a joint process under which complaints of code violations raised by staff or customers can be investigated and tackled.
The news came as Unite continued to call on the government to release the findings of its consultation into tipping, which is now 15 months overdue.
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