Union leaders are today launching a campaign calling on the Government to close the loophole that allows hospitality employers to use tips to make up the minimum wage.
Waiters and waitresses from hospitality operators across the capital will tell restaurant goers in London's West End to question the restaurant about where tips go as they launch their campaign for fair tips on World Tourism Day.
The Unite union will be picketing Smollenskys on the Strand and Pizza Express at Haymarket, leafleting customers to urge them to ask owners whether their money is going to staff who earn tips on top of their wages.
According to Unite, thousands of waiting staff have their minimum wage subsidised by tips given by customers for good service, often meaning they take a pay cut when on holiday or off sick
A Unite survey of waiting staff showed that the vast majority of restaurant employers take a cut of tips, and all rely on tips for their income. Many employers openly keep a chunk of service charge and credit card tips to boost profit margins, the survey suggested.
An employment tribunal earlier this month ruled that employers were allowed to use non-cash tips to make up minimum wage under Tronc regulations, but Unite is demanding that this loophole is closed.
Dave Turnbull, Unite regional industrial organiser, said: "Many customers would be horrified if they knew their service charge went towards paying hard-working waiters and waitresses the minimum wage, rather than rewarding good service.
"Tips and service charges should always be considered an addition to a decent living wage. As well as urging a change in the minimum wage law that allows employers to take advantage, customers can also help by asking the restaurant where the tips go," he added.
By Daniel Thomas
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