The controversy over restaurants topping up minimum wage with tips was reignited today as The Independent newspaper launched a campaign demanding an end to the practice.
It calls on restaurants to operate a fair, clear and transparent policy for distributing service charges and gratuities to staff; to display their policy on service charges and gratuities clearly on menus; and to guarantee waiting staff a basic salary of at least the minimum wage, excluding gratuities.
It repeated Unite's claim that Pizza Express takes an 8% cut of non-cash tips and said one chain of Asian restaurants, Georgetown, takes 100% of tips.
At Tuttons restaurant in London's Covent Garden, staff receive no basic pay at all - all their wages are based on tips, according to The Independent.
The British Hospitality Association denied restaurants were mistreating waiting staff and blamed HM Revenue and Customs for failing to provide a clear lead.
BHA deputy chief executive, Martin Couchman, said that there were "legitimate" costs involved in distributing service charges and credit card tips.
"It's perfectly legal to top up to the minimum wage," he said. "Evidence from recent controversy is that, overall, people are earning more than the minimum wage. It's legal and its one of the things that arose from the Revenue interpretation, which was very confused for a long period."
By Daniel Thomas
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