Workers in the hospitality sector will stage a protest outside the Department of Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy in London at midday today (15 July) in protest at the government's failure to introduce long-promised fair tips legislation.
Afterwards, the Unite union members will hold a further protest at a nearby PizzaExpress restaurant in reaction to the company's decision to increase the amount that is deducted from the tips received by waiting staff from 30% to 50%.
Prior to the protests, Unite will give evidence to the Low Pay Commission, saying the lack of legislation, combined with the pandemic, has created a huge fall in earnings for waiting staff.
Unite has written to the secretary of state for business Kwasi Kwarteng, claiming that employers "interfering" with tips allocation and distribution, combined with the acceleration of cashless pay and home deliveries during the pandemic, has created "a perfect storm" that has effectively wiped out the value of recent uplifts in the National Living Wage and the National Minimum Wage.
Unite officer for hospitality Dave Turnbull said: "A successful hospitality sector is essential for the recovery of the UK economy, but its return to health will be stifled by severe staff shortages until workers are paid fairly and properly.
"The Conservative government has continued to promise to introduce fair tips legislation and has equally failed to deliver on its warm words. Hospitality workers can't wait for promises on the never-never, they need action on tips now.
"When legislation is finally introduced it is essential that it is free of loopholes and action is taken to curtail the unethical use of troncs, which unscrupulous employers use to divert tips away from waiting staff."
Unite is also calling for action to resolve problems with HMRC E24 guidance on tips and troncs, which the union said was "not fit for purpose".
MP Dean Russell recently brought forward his own Private Members' Bill to enshrine in law that all tips in hospitality establishments should go to staff. The bill is expected to go to a second reading on 10 September.
Five years ago, the then business secretary Sajid Javid led a consultation into tips, service charges and troncs, and former prime minister Theresa May said a ban on employers making any deductions would be introduced at "the earliest opportunity".
The government committed to deliver an Employment (Allocation of Tips) Bill to ban employer deductions from tips in the Queen's speech in 2019, although it later said this would come under a wider Employment Bill rather than a specific tips bill.
The Employment Bill is understood to have not yet been drafted and the Queen's speech earlier this year did not mention it, however the government has reconfirmed that it will bring forward an Employment Bill, including legislation on tipping practices, "when the time is right".
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