On the pass: Who is your tip going to?

You’ve just enjoyed a delicious meal out.

The very helpful and obliging waiter appears with the bill. There’s a discretionary 12.5% service charge added and you don’t baulk, in fact your’re more than happy to pay it. Why wouldn’t you be? Your waiter’s earned it and if the restaurant has a policy of sharing out tips to all of those who worked together to make it such a delightful experience, then that’s no bad thing either.

But what’s this you’ve been reading in the papers about the tip or service charge you pay not ending up in the hands of the waiter?

Over the last couple of weeks there has been a steady stream of news stories painting an equally poor picture of the industry. They all relate to the payment (or in some cases non-payment) of tips and service charges. Newspapers have been reporting on troncing, clawing back tips from staff, as well as using tips and service charges to help them pay allegedly higher than industry average wages.

“I would prefer to go somewhere that when I tip I know the money goes to staff,” was the response of one diner when told in a newspaper last week that his tip was not going where he thought or intended.

Whether it’s just the British sense of fair play or something even more visceral, we don’t like the idea of money paid for one purpose being used for another. And we know that this really matters to you the dining public. Consumer research we conducted last year revealed that treating staff fairly was the sustainability priority that mattered most.

That’s why we are taking these stories very seriously and advising all of our Members, the vast majority of whom already operate a fair and transparent system, to do just that. We encourage them to implement a policy in which:

Tips and service charges should go to staff without any deductions for admin, topping up basic salaries, paying for training, etc.
It’s absolutely fair to run a tronc system, whereby the tip/service charge is shared amongst all staff who help to deliver the great experience
Restaurants should be entirely transparent about what they do with tips and service charges
There are lots of our Members who have won awards for being a good employer, like Hawksmoor and Oakman Inns. We want the whole restaurant industry to treat its staff well and you have a part to play.

Remember, you’re the customer and the service charge is discretionary. So, check the menu for information, ask your waiter how the tips and service charges are distributed as it is your right to know.

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