Jacobs Media Group is honoured to be the recipient of the 2020 Queen's Award for Enterprise.

Restaurant accused of forcing staff to ‘pay to work' through tipping policy

10 January 2018 by
Restaurant accused of forcing staff to ‘pay to work' through tipping policy

A restaurant group is forcing waiters to pay back 3% of their section's total spend at the end of each shift, disgruntled staff have claimed.

Aqua Italia's employees are giving a minimum of £20 to £30 to the company each night, according to an investigation by the Bristol Post.

Staff told the Post that the money was expected to come from their tips, but if they had not made enough during a shift it had to be paid from their own pocket.

After paying the 3% charge, said to subsidise staffing costs, waiters said they were also asked to give 10% of their tips to bar and kitchen staff.

Sam Rimmer, a former waiter at Aqua Italia in Bristol, told the Post: "I think the 3% policy is absolutely shocking. Basically they're making people rent a section of the restaurant, if you want to work there you have to pay."

Rimmer, 29, resigned in October and said the prospect of handing back hundreds, if not thousands, of pounds over the Christmas period was part of the reason.

He claimed that while covering shifts in a Milton Keynes branch he saw a manager tell a crying waiter to go to a cashpoint to withdraw the money to settle that night's charge.

A senior staff member, speaking to the Post on the condition of anonymity, explained: "This has been going on as long as I've been there. The operations manager thinks that if waiters don't earn enough tips to cover the 3% then they're not doing a good job."

Staff have claimed details of the pay back scheme are outlined in a contract staff must sign at the start of their employment, which was seen by the Post.

The Caterer has contacted Aqua restaurants for comment.

The group has restaurants in Bristol, Bath, Milton Keynes, Portishead, Worthing, and Lewes.

The government is currently considering the results of a consultation on tips, gratuities and and charges.

A document published by the Department for Business, Innovation & Skills in May 2016 said it should be clear to consumers that service charges were voluntary, that tips should be received by workers and that it should be clear to diners how their payment would be treated.

New code of practice on tipping launched>>

Government's short consultation period for tips and service charge leaves operators outraged>>

Videos from The Caterer archives

Are you looking for a new role? See all the current hospitality vacancies available with The Caterer Jobs

The Caterer Breakfast Briefing Email

Start the working day with The Caterer’s free breakfast briefing email

Sign Up and manage your preferences below

Check mark icon
Thank you

You have successfully signed up for the Caterer Breakfast Briefing Email and will hear from us soon!

Jacobs Media Group is honoured to be the recipient of the 2020 Queen's Award for Enterprise.

The highest official awards for UK businesses since being established by royal warrant in 1965. Read more.


Ad Blocker detected

We have noticed you are using an adblocker and – although we support freedom of choice – we would like to ask you to enable ads on our site. They are an important revenue source which supports free access of our website's content, especially during the COVID-19 crisis.

trade tracker pixel tracking