Three-quarters of restaurant customers think that the service charge is a bonus for staff and not another income source for restaurants, according to an exclusive poll conducted for Caterer by restaurant guide Square Meal. The survey, which questioned 715 people, found that 73% believed that the 12.5% service charge levied in some restaurants was being paid to staff as a bonus on top of their salary.
Gaby Huddart, editor of Square Meal, said: "I'm not surprised but it's quite shocking. When restaurant-goers enjoy good service they want to feel that the service charge is going to the person as a reward for their work. It's no longer about tipping someone but about topping up wages."
The Inland Revenue's new E24 guidelines allow restaurateurs to use all or part of the optional service charge to top up the minimum wage and not be liable to pay National Insurance contributions on all the tronc.
Source: Caterer & Hotelkeeper magazine, 3 March 2005