UK Restaurants to Be Banned from Taking a Cut of Staff Tips

Currently, restaurants like Zizzi and Giraffe take a 10-percent cut of their employees’ tips.

by Ruby Lott-Lavigna
01 October 2018, 1:59pm

Photo via Flickr user Satish Krishnamurthy.

Waiting tables can be the worst. Lugging food back and forth from kitchen to dining room for hours on end, with no prospect of eating said food. You’ve also got to be smiley and professional, even when delivering food to difficult customers. Fresh horseradish? Of course, let me get it for you once I put down this heavy plate scolding my hands. No please, finish your anecdote first. Ha ha. Ha. Help.

And that’s not even the worst of it. In the UK, waiting staff are at risk of having their employers take a cut of their tips. Major restaurants chains including Zizzi, Bella Italia, Cafe Rouge, Giraffe, Prezzo, and Strada all take a percentage cut of their waiters’ tips, which, in an industry that is already underpaid, is a real arsehole move.

However, this kind of duplicitous exploitation may be coming to an end. Restaurants could be legally banned from taking a share of their employees' tips under new legislation set to be announced by Theresa May today.

According to the BBC, new laws would mean that restaurants like Bella Italia, Cafe Rouge, Prezzo, and Giraffe, who all take a 10-percent cut of their employees’ tips, would be barred from doing so. Prezzo and Strada, two high street Italian restaurant chains, take 8-percent of staff tips and would also be impacted by the new legislation.

In 2016, business secretary Sajid Javid told the BBC that all restaurant tips should go to waiting staff, and launched a two-month consultation on the issue. However, no legislation was announced until today.

Leader of the opposition, Jeremy Corbyn, claims that the Tories stole the new tipping policy from the Labour Party, who shared the prospective legislation in June.

Whoever's idea it was, Unite the Union, who campaign for fair wages in hospitality, say that the success of any tipping legislation depends on “the detail.”

Unite regional officer Dave Turnbull told MUNCHIES: “This step in tackling tipping abuses has been a long time coming and is in no small part down to the determined campaigning of Unite and its members. As ever the devil will be in the detail of the legislation the government brings forward.”

“There will be question marks as to whether it will deal with the myriad of scams some restaurants use to pilfer staff tips to boost their profits. Unite will be seeking assurances from ministers that the legislation the government introduces truly delivers fair tips for some of the lowest paid workers in the UK and that it is done so in a timely manner.”

A spokesperson for Zizzi, a restaurant that has been criticised for taking its waiters' tips, told us: "At Zizzi, we welcome this new legislation and fully agree that across the sector the full tip amount should go to those who have earned them. Our belief in the fair distribution of tips led to the changes made by us in November 2015 to ensure 100-percent of all our tips and service charges left by customers went directly to the teams via Tronc after the deductions made by HMRC."

While the move to ban restaurants from taking a cut of staff tips is good news for hospitality staff, there is no indication of when the legislation may come into action.

Nothing like the thrill of having basic employment rights!