The UK business secretary, Kwasi Kwarteng, is expected to announce a change in the law this week that will entitle wait staff to 100% of their service charge.
Currently there is no law surrounding service in the UK, with many restaurants choosing to add a discretionary amount onto the final bill. This sometimes depends on the number of guests dining or the time of day, but there is currently no legislation in place that ensures the money paid by diners goes directly to the staff serving them.
The Bill would prohibit employers from keeping tips, and ensure all gratuities were paid to staff. There would also be arrangements made to oversee how tips were split between different team members. While several pledges have been made in recent years to stop restauranteurs from keeping tips intended for the staff, no formal protections in law have yet been secured.
Speaking about the proposed changes, a government spokesperson said: "We are doing everything we can to back hospitality staff as the sector recovers. Workers should get the tips they deserve, and customers should have reassurance that their money is rewarding staff for their hard work and good service. Further announcements on this key issue will be made shortly."
Unsurprisingly, a government consultation back in 2015 found that consumers overwhelmingly supported the tips they paid being given to the servers rather than the restaurant’s owners.
While the move will be welcome by many, some see it as coming to the pass a bit late. Unite union national officer for hospitality Dave Turnbull commented: “This Private Member’s Bill exposes the Government’s failure to introduce the long-promised fair tips legislation.
“Waiting staff, the majority of whom are on the minimum wage, keep being promised jam tomorrow by the Government but in the meantime they continue to be ripped off by unscrupulous employers. Not only must the Government finally bring forward fair tips legislation, but it must ensure that it is sufficiently robust to prevent it being undermined through loopholes.”
In other news, Jamie Oliver wants to bring back his UK restaurants.