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Government Scraps Bill to Stop Restaurants Stealing Tips

A potential law to “prohibit employers retaining tips and gratuities intended for staff” tabled in June 2021 will not go ahead

A receipt with a tip, in the form of coins, being carried away from a table by a waiter
The bill would have ensured all tips went to restaurant staff.
Bloomberg

A bill that would have enacted a restaurant tipping law to “prohibit employers retaining tips and gratuities intended for staff; to make provision about the division of tips and gratuities between staff; and for connected purposes” will not make it to the statutes anytime soon.

The government has scrapped Conservative MP Dean Russell’s Tipping Bill, which leant on a proposal from MP Sajid Javid that dates back to 2016. The government will instead “encourage that ‘industry best practice’” be applied, according to the Financial Times.

The conversation around tipping in the U.K. gathered pace during the COVID-19 pandemic, when furlough payments to restaurant workers did not take service charge and tronc into account, leaving not on 80 percent of their wages — as chancellor Rishi Sunak’s scheme trumpeted — but more like 60, 50, or even 45. Some London restaurants have responded to this by scrapping “service charge” altogether, and pricing the deficit into their menus. This makes a “tip” actually a tip — a bonus that should go to staff who are already being remunerated appropriately, where service charge, despite being perceived as a bonus, has for a long time been a constituent part of a liveable salary that restaurant and bar workers would not survive without.

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