Downing Street adds voice to chorus of support for fair tips

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 features@independent.co.uk with "Tipping" in the subject line.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksAn introduction to the ground rules of British democracy
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
SPONSORED FEATURES
Independent Dating
and  

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

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Membership Sales Advisor - OTE £10,000 Uncapped - Part Time

£7500 - £10000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: The fastest growing fitness chai...

Recruitment Genius: IT Support Engineer - 2nd & 3rd Line

£25000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: The IT Support Engineer is needed to ass...

Recruitment Genius: Operations Officer

£15000 - £17000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: It's an exciting time for this ...

Recruitment Genius: Junior / Mid Software Developer

£22000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an exciting opportunity...

Day In a Page

Refugee crisis: David Cameron lowered the flag for the dead king of Saudi Arabia - will he do the same honour for little Aylan Kurdi?

Cameron lowered the flag for the dead king of Saudi Arabia...

But will he do the same honour for little Aylan Kurdi, asks Robert Fisk
Our leaders lack courage in this refugee crisis. We are shamed by our European neighbours

Our leaders lack courage in this refugee crisis. We are shamed by our European neighbours

Humanity must be at the heart of politics, says Jeremy Corbyn
Joe Biden's 'tease tour': Could the US Vice-President be testing the water for a presidential run?

Joe Biden's 'tease tour'

Could the US Vice-President be testing the water for a presidential run?
Britain's 24-hour culture: With the 'leisured society' a distant dream we're working longer and less regular hours than ever

Britain's 24-hour culture

With the 'leisured society' a distant dream we're working longer and less regular hours than ever
Diplomacy board game: Treachery is the way to win - which makes it just like the real thing

The addictive nature of Diplomacy

Bullying, betrayal, aggression – it may be just a board game, but the family that plays Diplomacy may never look at each other in the same way again
Lady Chatterley's Lover: Racy underwear for fans of DH Lawrence's equally racy tome

Fashion: Ooh, Lady Chatterley!

Take inspiration from DH Lawrence's racy tome with equally racy underwear
8 best children's clocks

Tick-tock: 8 best children's clocks

Whether you’re teaching them to tell the time or putting the finishing touches to a nursery, there’s a ticker for that
Charlie Austin: Queens Park Rangers striker says ‘If the move is not right, I’m not going’

Charlie Austin: ‘If the move is not right, I’m not going’

After hitting 18 goals in the Premier League last season, the QPR striker was the great non-deal of transfer deadline day. But he says he'd preferred another shot at promotion
Isis profits from destruction of antiquities by selling relics to dealers - and then blowing up the buildings they come from to conceal the evidence of looting

How Isis profits from destruction of antiquities

Robert Fisk on the terrorist group's manipulation of the market to increase the price of artefacts
Labour leadership: Andy Burnham urges Jeremy Corbyn voters to think again in last-minute plea

'If we lose touch we’ll end up with two decades of the Tories'

In an exclusive interview, Andy Burnham urges Jeremy Corbyn voters to think again in last-minute plea
Tunisia fears its Arab Spring could be reversed as the new regime becomes as intolerant of dissent as its predecessor

The Arab Spring reversed

Tunisian protesters fear that a new law will whitewash corrupt businessmen and officials, but they are finding that the new regime is becoming as intolerant of dissent as its predecessor
King Arthur: Legendary figure was real and lived most of his life in Strathclyde, academic claims

Academic claims King Arthur was real - and reveals where he lived

Dr Andrew Breeze says the legendary figure did exist – but was a general, not a king
Who is Oliver Bonas and how has he captured middle-class hearts?

Who is Oliver Bonas?

It's the first high-street store to pay its staff the living wage, and it saw out the recession in style
Earth has 'lost more than half its trees' since humans first started cutting them down

Axe-wielding Man fells half the world’s trees – leaving us just 422 each

However, the number of trees may be eight times higher than previously thought
60 years of Scalextric: Model cars are now stuffed with as much tech as real ones

60 years of Scalextric

Model cars are now stuffed with as much tech as real ones