Chain reaction: who gets what – and where

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The Independent Online

Gondola Holdings (Pizza Express)

"All staff are paid minimum wage or more. Pizza Express does not and never has used tips to top up waiters' and waitresses' wages to the minimum wage. All cash tips go straight to the waiters, and it is their responsibility to ensure that they get these taxed. For credit card tips, the company and its waiters are legally obliged to ensure these get taxed. To fulfil this obligation, a tronc system was set up a few years ago to administer this. The eight per cent administration charge covers the costs incurred for running the tronc and not, as implied, to generate additional profit for the company. One of the benefits of [the] tronc for waiting teams is that credit card and service charge tips are paid without... national insurance contribution .[deductions]."


Unite claims the company tops up waiters' pay to, or above, the minimum wage by using gratuities. "Carluccio's fulfils all its obligations under minimum wage legislation. The rules allow us to include credit card tips as part of minimum wage, although they are paid directly to the employee concerned. Our system generates average hourly rates of around £8 per hour and should anyone fall below the required levels we simply top it up. We make no deductions whatsoever for administration or credit card commission. We do not operate a blanket service charge (other than for large parties) or ask our waiters to share tips between themselves. This means that the customer chooses when to tip and how much and our people who are best at the job earn the most."

Nobu Group

Unite has seen a bill for a meal that totalled more than £1,000 and included a £150 service charge, as well as a £100 tip left by credit card, from which the waiter claims to have received nothing. "Nobu London operates on a service charge basis. An optional 15 per cent service charge is added to each bill. All of the service charge is divided amongst the staff. Nobu operates the policy entirely within the law and we believe that our staff are treated fairly."

Covent Garden Restaurant Group (Tuttons)

Unite has seen a staff contract which states that waiting staff receive a basic wage of zero. Service charges and gratuities are used to pay the staff up to or above the minimum wage.

"We operate an Inland Revenue-approved 'tronc' scheme where our staff currently enjoy pay that exceeds national minimum wage by more than 30 per cent.

"During the recruitment process we offer complete transparency in regards to our payment structure... we also provide a number of forums where our staff can contribute to our processes and procedures... We are confident that our employees are satisfied."

Paramount Restaurants (Caffé Uno, Chez Gerard)

Unite claims the company tops up waiters' pay to, or above, the minimum wage by using gratuities. "We work through the guidelines that the British Hospitality Association set." The company would not comment further.

Restaurant Group (Chiquito, Garfunkels)

A memo obtained by Unite said: "It is essential that the customer is offered the opportunity to leave gratuity via chip-and-pin. Not offering this facility means you could be encouraging the customer to leave a cash tip." The memo states thiscould "contravene" company policy. The group declined to comment.

Harvey Nichols

Staff at the department store's café in Manchester told Unite they were paid £3.50 per hour before tips. The company said: "Unfortunately, there is nobody within the company who is available for interview or to speak with you on this matter and on this occasion, Harvey Nichols is unable to make a comment for your article."