Tipping policy split as Unite union demands tougher line

Chris Losh

Chris Losh

30 November 2015

The controversy over tipping legislation deepened this week, with trade union Unite pushing for a zero tolerance policy on administration charges. This stance puts it at odds with suggestions currently being proposed to MPs by the British Hospitality Association (BHA).

The BHA is urging the Secretary of State for Business, Innovation and Skills, Sajid Javid, to enshrine its current voluntary code into law. If accepted, it would mean that restaurants and hotels would be obliged to tell customers how any service charges and tips are distributed among staff, but would require no major changes to current tipping legislation.

Unite, however, is pushing for a harder-hitting change in the law, which would prevent restaurants from deducting service charges from tips at all.

‘The BHA seems to be clinging to the increasingly outdated notion that deductions for admin purposes are a standard industry practice when it is quite evident that this is no longer the case,’ Dave Turnbull, regional officer at Unite, told Imbibe.

Under pressure from the union and in the press, a number of large restaurant groups, including Ask, Zizzi, Byron, Giraffe, Café Rouge, Bella Italia, Belgo and Pizza Express have all recently stopped the practice of levying an administration charge on tips.

‘Unite's position is that 100% of tips should go to staff with no deductions,’ continued Turnbull. ‘We will also be calling for some form of regulation to ensure that tronc schemes are genuinely independent from employer influence and not simply bodies that are manipulated by management to rubber stamp company-wide policies.’

The BHA, however, claims to have over 200 MPs sympathetic to its suggestion, and the body is hopeful of progress in 2016.

‘Although restaurants are legally entitled to deduct administration costs from service charges, for example, we think it’s important the customers understand exactly how much is deducted and why,’ said the BHA’s chief executive, Ufi Ibrahim.

Where do you stand on this issue? Send us a tweet to let us know.

Related articles

News

Tip for tat: Tipping policy

The summer saw a raft of negative stories about tipping practices in the UK.

News

TGI Fridays sets up staff tronc committee to examine tipping policy

TGI Fridays has established a tronc committee comprised of its staff members to determine how tips paid through customer cards are distributed among t

News

Unite to protest 'service charge scam' at STK London

A 'Fair Tips' protest is set to descend on STK London tonight, over allegations of a 'service charge scam'.UK trade union Unite claims that the the st

News

Tipping policy makes waiters 'pay to work' at restaurant group

A restaurant group in the south-west of England has come under fire for making its waiters ‘pay to work’ through a tipping policy that requires them t