Downing Street adds voice to chorus of support for fair tips
Wednesday 16 July 2008
Downing Street signalled yesterday that it will back the campaign to ensure Britain's 231,000 waiters receive a fairer share of money left in tips.
Hours after The Independent published a front page story disclosing how restaurants pocket much of the money, Gordon Brown's official spokesman said the Government wanted to see a "fairer and more transparent" system and intended to make an announcement shortly.
The move came as public and political support flooded in for our Fair Tips, Fair Pay campaign, which seeks to ensure that restaurants operate fair and transparent systems for distributing gratuities to staff.
As we revealed, restaurants – including those run by some of the biggest names in the £37bn-a-year business – are using the service charge to pay basic wages. Many are also failing to pass on all gratuities to waiting staff or deducting charges for breakages or other problems. Among the chains dipping into the service charge to pay basic wages are Carluccio's, Café Rouge, Strada and Caffé Uno.
Yesterday we discovered further evidence of the practice, including its operation by the Zizzi and ASK chains owned by the company's biggest casual dining chain, Gondola Holdings.
At the Groucho Club in London, frequented by some of the capital's most fashionable diners, waiters are left with less than a quarter of the service charge left by customers.
As pressure for change built from all parties, Gordon Brown's spokesman said: "The Government believes we should make tipping fairer and more transparent. We are looking carefully at the options and hope to make an announcement shortly. This is a complex area but the Department for Business, Enterprise and Regulatory Reform is looking at it."
Meanwhile, a Commons motion backing our campaign was tabled by the Labour MP Michael Connarty, who has been fighting to close the loophole allowing restaurant owners to use tips for the national minimum wage.
The motion demands "an end to the present situation in the UK hospitality industry" where service charges, tips and gratuities are used to pay staff wages and calls on the Government "to ensure that all tips and gratuities are paid to staff in addition to at least the hourly national minimum wage rate".
Stephen Byers, the former Trade and Industry Secretary who introduced the minimum wage in 1999, asked John Hutton, the Business Secretary, for new legislation. In a written Commons question, Mr Byers called for all waiting staff to be guaranteed the minimum wage excluding gratuities and to receive all tips given by customers in full.
Nick Clegg, the Liberal Democrat leader, also backed our campaign, saying: "It is scandalous and a betrayal of trust that some restaurants are exploiting customers' generosity by not properly passing on tips to their employees.
The overwhelming majority of readers who left comments on independent.co.uk expressed irritation that money designed to reward good service was not being passed in full, if at all. One wrote: "I wholeheartedly agree with your campaign to ensure waiting staff in restaurants and hotels receive the tips left by customers in recognition of the good service they receive. It is iniquitous that employers 'steal' this money on too many occasions, and I have adopted the practice of leaving cash rather than adding a gratuity to the bill."
Another wrote: "When I leave a tip, it's for the person who gave me the service, not some other waiting staff I did not deal with and certainly not the owner."
Have your say below on any general issues. If you have points on a specific restaurant or employer, rather than post below, please email email@example.com with "Tipping" in the subject line.
- 1 Saudi Arabia mosque bombing: Two volunteer security guards hailed as heroes for stopping Isis suicide bomber reaching worshippers
- 2 Maisie Williams has an excellent message for one confused fan
- 3 There is something wrong but very right about this Bible illustration
- 4 Puerto Rico, island of lost dreams: People are leaving the debt-hit territory in droves as near neighbour Cuba's star rises
- 5 Tampon tax scrapped in Canada after petition convinces conservative government
Saudi Arabia mosque bombing: Two volunteer security guards hailed as heroes for stopping Isis suicide bomber reaching worshippers
Maisie Williams has an excellent message for one confused fan
Archaeologists discover 2,400-year-old gold bongs in Russia
Tampon tax scrapped in Canada after petition convinces conservative government
Migrants in Kos: Photos show real tragedy after British tourists complain of 'awkward' holidays
EU referendum: David Cameron's rules are a 'democratic disgrace', says French-born Scottish politician set to be denied a vote
British tourists complain that impoverished boat migrants are making holidays 'awkward' in Kos
A nation of inequality: How the UK is failing to feed its most vulnerable people
Australian man punched in the face for defending Muslim women from abuse on train
EU referendum: David Cameron to deny EU migrants and under-18s the chance to vote
David Starkey 'tells Amal Clooney to shut up and stop over-promoting human rights'
£16500 - £18500 per annum: Recruitment Genius: One of the leading Mercedes-Ben...
£27500 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an exciting opportunity...
£19500 - £23500 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Experienced B2B Telemarketer wa...
Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: This global company are looking for two Showro...