The introduction of regulations that would mean restaurant staff get to keep the entirety of their tips has been pushed back by the government—despite having been on the legislative agenda for nearly three years.
The changes were first mooted in 2016 following a Guardian investigation into how tips are distributed. The then Business Secretary Sajid Javid announced that tips should go in full to waiting staff and set out proposals to stop employer deductions. Theresa May then pledged to introduce regulations “as soon as parliamentary time allows” at the 2018 Conservative party conference. But as reported in The Caterer yesterday, the policy is being pushed back until parliament’s next session—which doesn’t begin until September.
The issue of how—and, in some cases, if—cash tips and on-bill service charges are passed on to staff his the headlines in 2016 when Michel Roux Jr admitted that Michelin-starred Le Gavroche treated the service charge “as revenue” amounting to a likely several thousand pounds a week, keeping everything that was added to bills. Following the outcry, Eater’s subsequent investigation into how service charges actually work in practice revealed that London restaurants’ approaches to distribution varied wildly, from 100% of them going to staff to them being collected and given to the manager each month as a bonus,
Although there are currently no laws in place about splitting tips and service charges, the British Hospitality Association (BHA) has a code of practice. Establishments that have signed up to it should be able to tell diners what proportion of the tip is deducted as a handling charge, how the remainder is shared amongst staff and the process for distribution of tips amongst staff.
Not everyone in the industry feels that legislation is necessary. Commenting on the delay, hospitality trade body UK Hospitality—which has worked with the union Unite to develop its own guidelines—said the fact that many restaurants had acted voluntarily over the past few years to improve their processes meant new regulations were redundant.