By Tom Tanner, SRA
Two million hospitality workers stand to gain from the Government’s new plans to overhaul tipping practices, ensuring all tips go to workers.
Five years after consulting the industry about a new regime, the Government has finally drawn up proposals which it says will put an end to ‘shameful practices’. We have long supported calls for transparency – for those two million workers and the millions of members of the public who, when they leave a gratuity expect it to go to the people who served and prepared their meal, without deductions.
It was back in 2015/16 that media reports highlighted a number of restaurant operators withholding some or all of these tips from their staff. This created all the wrong headlines for restaurants, cast doubt in the minds of diners about where their hard earned cash was going, and did nothing to attract an already dwindling number of people to work in the industry.
A hue section of the industry already adheres to the highest standards of fairness and clarity using apps like TipJar, so it is perhaps a shame that it’s been necessary for the Government to make it law that employers cannot withhold tips from their workforce. When in the past we’ve asked the public to tell us about the issues that matter most to them when eating out, fair treatment of staff rated consistently high on the list.
As the Government announcement explained, the move to a cashless society has accelerated dodgy tipping practices as an increase in card payment has made it easier for businesses to keep that money, or a portion of it.
All forward-thinking employers should welcome the new regime, as long as allowance is made for reasonable tronc costs. Businesses that withhold money owed to their staff should expect to face the legal consequences – which the plans say will be in an industrial tribunal. We trust that won’t be necessary.
Looking at this issue in a wider context, the current staffing shortage in hospitality is at least in part due to the impression (in many cases false) that this is a career that doesn’t provide sufficient reward (both material and non-financial) to make it worth the long and often anti-social hours.
We are optimistic that by embracing this new regime, the industry will be sending a strong and positive signal to its current and potential workforce as well as its customers that it cherishes its most valuable asset and the generosity of its customers.