Mark Hix: 'Why I've joined The Independent's campaign for fairer tipping'

After working at the top of the restaurant industry for almost two decades, I know that this business as a whole is not without its scams and tricks. But I must say that even I'm surprised – and disappointed – by some of the practices that The Independent's Fair Tips, Fair Pay campaign has exposed. Some of the tipping policies out there are shocking, especially where the management takes more of the service charges than the staff – that's exactly what restaurants should not be doing.

In theory, a service charge should simplify things, and make the situation very clear to the customer. But a lot of restaurants are betraying that implicit trust. Service charges certainly shouldn't be skimmed off. Paying staff less than the minimum wage, while using the service charge to make up the difference, is just wrong. The whole point of a service charge is that it should be a little extra to show gratitude for good service. It should also be genuinely discretionary – if you get lousy service, then you shouldn't pay, simple as that.

In my restaurants, in Dorset and London, all the service charge and tips are distributed to front-of-house staff according to a points system, so a less-qualified waiter would get less than a more experienced person. If people tip on top, it's an added bonus. You would like to think that the customers know what you are doing with the service charge, and I'm going to think of a clever way to make it absolutely clear in my restaurants.

Once, we had a well-known critic in, reviewing the place. I saw him hand a credit card to one of my waiters, look up and ask what happens to the service charge. The waiter just froze, despite having been briefed on what to say. Even though we're doing the right thing, it's very difficult for a waiter suddenly to be confronted by a customer. So I think it's vital to have transparency and not put them in that position.

Mark Hix - chef-proprietor, Hix Oyster & Fish House in Lyme Regis, and Hix Oyster & Chop House in London

Giorgio Locatelli

"Whether it's a discretionary service charge that's added to a bill, or cash left on a table, all tips should go to the staff. They do at Locanda Locatelli – we have a tronc system that fairly divides up the money, and it's run by our front-of-house team."

Giorgio Locatelli – chef-proprietor, Locanda Locatelli, London

Shaun Hill

"Hopefully, your campaign will put a stop to the bad guys who skim off the tips, so that we can all safely assume that our tips go to the staff. We all have the right to expect this. We have a very fair system and we're very happy to tell our customers about it. No 'discretionary' charges are automatically added to bills and all tips are distributed among our staff, with no deductions apart from income tax – the Inland Revenue is immensely suspicious about tipping. So we collect all tips – whether they're left as cash or on a credit card – and share them out using a tronc system. The bulk goes to the people who are directly serving, but everyone who works gets a share, including the chefs."

Shaun Hill – chef-proprietor, The Walnut Tree Restaurant, Abergavenny, Wales

Antony Worrall Thompson

"In most of my restaurants there is a discretionary 12.5 per cent service charge, which is distributed among the staff, who run their own tronc system [in which some get slightly more than others, in an open, fair system]. I have nothing to do with it, and everything goes into it – we don't even take a percentage for admin on credit-card transactions.

I fully support the Fair Tips, Fair Pay campaign for the whole industry to adopt fair policies. I think the law needs to be changed because staff and customers never know where they stand. We already have a line on our menus to say that all tips are shared between staff. We want to make sure everyone knows what they're doing and what they're paying for."

Anthony Worrall Thompson - operates six restaurants, including Notting Grill, London

Marco Pierre White

"We add a standard 12.5 per cent service charge to bills, and that money is distributed to staff, from the kitchen porter upwards. The staff distribute cash tips among themselves. All I insist is that everything should be proportional: whatever there is at the end of the week is distributed fairly across the board. When I was a boy, chefs and front-of-house famously never got on, but now they get on very well because the tips are distributed fairly. At my restaurants, whatever you leave goes to every single member of staff who works there. I think it will be difficult to formalise tipping throughout the industry, but I hope customers build relationships with certain restaurants and find out whether the service charge goes to the staff. It's called a service charge, and I for one always assume that it goes to staff. I'd say 95 per cent of restaurants do that and I think that's correct. Restaurant staff work very hard."

Marco Pierre White - runs eight restaurants, including four branches of Frankie's in London, and The Yew Tree, in Newbury, Berkshire

Aldo Zilli

"We have a 12.5 per cent discretionary service charge, all of which is shared among all staff according to a weighted tronc system. Cash is treated differently: if someone gives a £50 tip to a waiter, there's nothing I can do. It's all too easy to operate an unfair system because there's no law to stop it. Big chains can effectively put in place their own law. It shouldn't be allowed.

Of course I support the campaign to make it as clear as possible. But the customer also needs to ask more questions. The law should change, but it's also down to us to demand better service and make sure that the money goes to the right place."

Aldo Zilli - operates four restaurants in London and Brighton

Rick Stein

"Unfortunately, Rick is not available to talk to you today, but I can confirm that Rick and Jill Stein's policy is always for staff to receive 100 per cent of all tips made in the restaurants, without any company deductions."

Spokesman for Rick Stein, who owns four restaurants in Padstow, Cornwall

Tom Aikens

"We have a 12.5 per cent service charge that is optional. Customers can leave cash tips on top if they want – 100 per cent of the service charge and credit-card tips go to kitchen staff and front- of-house at the end of the month. Cash tips go into a box and are divided at the end of the month."

Spokesman for Tom Aikens, who operates three restaurants in London

Alain LHermitte

"I support absolutely The Independent's campaign. The fact that some bosses are keeping service charges is scandalous. As a result of the campaign, we've had people come into the restaurant and ask what happens to our service charge. I don't take a cent of it. So we are going to add a line to our menus by the end of the week to say that all the service charge goes to our serving staff."

Alain Lhermitte - owns Mon Plaisir, London's oldest French restaurant

Fair tips, fair pay

The Independent has set out three simple guidelines for fair treatment of waiting staff, asking that the Government introduce legislation to end the widespread unfair tipping practices adopted by many of Britain's restaurants:

1) All restaurants should operate a fair, clear and transparent policy for distributing service charges and gratuities to their staff.

2) All restaurants should display their policy on service charges and gratuities clearly on all of their menus.

3) All restaurant waiting staff should be guaranteed a basic salary of at least the minimum wage, excluding gratuities.

To have your say, and comment on general issues relating to our campaign, visit To comment on a specific restaurant or employer, please send an email, in confidence, to, with "tipping" in the subject field.

Life and Style
Marie had fake ID, in the name of Johanna Koch, after she evaded capture by the Nazis in wartime Berlin
historyOne woman's secret life as a Jew in wartime Berlin
news... and what your reaction to the creatures above says about you
Jihadi John
newsMonikers like 'Jihadi John' make the grim sound glamorous
newsAnother week, another dress controversy on the internet
Life and Style
ebookNow available in paperback
ebookPart of The Independent’s new eBook series The Great Composers
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs Food & Drink

    Recruitment Genius: Lifeguards / Leisure Club Attendants - Seasonal Placement

    Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: Qualified Lifeguards are required to join a fa...

    Recruitment Genius: Assistant Exhibition Content Developer

    £19000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Based in South Kensington, this prestigi...

    Ashdown Group: Marketing Manager - major leisure brand

    £40000 per annum: Ashdown Group: A reputable organisation within the leisure i...

    Recruitment Genius: Sales Partner

    £25000 - £33000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Sales Partner is required to ...

    Day In a Page

    The difference between America and Israel? There isn’t one

    The difference between America and Israel? There isn’t one

    Netanyahu knows he can get away with anything in America, says Robert Fisk
    Families clubbing together to build their own affordable accommodation

    Do It Yourself approach to securing a new house

    Community land trusts marking a new trend for taking the initiative away from developers
    Head of WWF UK: We didn’t send Cameron to the Arctic to see green ideas freeze

    David Nussbaum: We didn’t send Cameron to the Arctic to see green ideas freeze

    The head of WWF UK remains sanguine despite the Government’s failure to live up to its pledges on the environment
    Author Kazuo Ishiguro on being inspired by shoot-outs and samurai

    Author Kazuo Ishiguro on being inspired by shoot-outs and samurai

    Set in a mythologised 5th-century Britain, ‘The Buried Giant’ is a strange beast
    With money, corruption and drugs, this monk fears Buddhism in Thailand is a ‘poisoned fruit’

    Money, corruption and drugs

    The monk who fears Buddhism in Thailand is a ‘poisoned fruit’
    America's first slavery museum established at Django Unchained plantation - 150 years after slavery outlawed

    150 years after it was outlawed...

    ... America's first slavery museum is established in Louisiana
    Kelly Clarkson: How I snubbed Simon Cowell and become a Grammy-winning superstar

    Kelly Clarkson: How I snubbed Simon Cowell and become a Grammy-winning superstar

    The first 'American Idol' winner on how she manages to remain her own woman – Jane Austen fascination and all
    Tony Oursler on exploring our uneasy relationship with technology with his new show

    You won't believe your eyes

    Tony Oursler's new show explores our uneasy relationship with technology. He's one of a growing number of artists with that preoccupation
    Ian Herbert: Peter Moores must go. He should never have been brought back to fail again

    Moores must go. He should never have been brought back to fail again

    The England coach leaves players to find solutions - which makes you wonder where he adds value, says Ian Herbert
    War with Isis: Fears that the looming battle for Mosul will unleash 'a million refugees'

    The battle for Mosul will unleash 'a million refugees'

    Aid agencies prepare for vast exodus following planned Iraqi offensive against the Isis-held city, reports Patrick Cockburn
    Yvette Cooper: We can't lose the election. There's too much on the line

    Yvette Cooper: We can't lose the election. There's too much on the line

    The shadow Home Secretary on fighting radical Islam, protecting children, and why anyone in Labour who's thinking beyond May must 'sort themselves out'
    A bad week for the Greens: Leader Natalie Bennett's 'car crash' radio interview is followed by Brighton council's failure to set a budget due to infighting

    It's not easy being Green

    After a bad week in which its leader had a public meltdown and its only city council couldn't agree on a budget vote, what next for the alternative party? It's over to Caroline Lucas to find out
    Gorillas nearly missed: BBC producers didn't want to broadcast Sir David Attenborough's famed Rwandan encounter

    Gorillas nearly missed

    BBC producers didn't want to broadcast Sir David Attenborough's famed Rwandan encounter
    Downton Abbey effect sees impoverished Italian nobles inspired to open their doors to paying guests for up to €650 a night

    The Downton Abbey effect

    Impoverished Italian nobles are opening their doors to paying guests, inspired by the TV drama
    China's wild panda numbers have increased by 17% since 2003, new census reveals

    China's wild panda numbers on the up

    New census reveals 17% since 2003