The British Hospitality Association (BHA) is to lobby the government for a change in the law over tipping.
Under proposals that they are outlining in a letter to the business secretary, Sajid Javid, restaurants and hotels would need to make clear to customers exactly how service charges and tips are distributed amongst their staff.
The move comes in response to a string of negative stories in the press concerning distribution of tips, particularly concerning businesses where waiting staff have to pay a percentage of their table take back to the restaurant at the end of the night.
Restaurant groups such as Pizza Express, Las Iguanas, Côte, Jamie’s Italian and Wahaca have all come under the spotlight in the last few months.
And while there is no suggestion that restaurants are doing anything illegal, the sheer variety of systems on offer confuses customers and makes them suspicious.
‘Although restaurants are legally entitled to deduct administration costs from service charges, for example, we think it’s important the customers understands exactly how much is deducted and why,’ says Ufi Ibrahim, chief executive of the BHA.
The Department for Business, Innovation and Skills has called for evidence into how cash and non-cash tips, gratuities, cover and service charges are collected and how much employers deduct from their employees, not just in the hospitality sector, but in areas like hairdressing and casinos as well.
‘It’s all about transparency,’ says Ibrahim. ‘Customers should be able to reward good service and know where their money ends up and how much of it goes to the staff.’