Ensure all tips go to workers

As the Olympics take place, Community is calling for a better world of work for everyone. This blog is part of a ten part series outlining the changes we want to see to create that better world. 

When out in a bar or restaurant, many of us like to leave a tip for our server when we pay as a thank you for the experience or for particularly good service.

It’s a nice thing to do – but is your money going to who you want it to go to? Or is it actually being kept by their boss?

During the pandemic, our hospitality workers have often struggled the most financially with their livelihoods completely shuttered and their sources of income gone. As a result of this, levels of tipping have increased dramatically during reopenings as people want to support their hospitality workers through this difficult period.

Yet over the last few years, there has been numerous examples of restaurant and bar owners keeping tips that were originally intended for members of serving staff, or taking a share of the collective tips. This has included high profile establishments such as Zizzi, Bella Italia and Prezzo.

The legal situation for tips in the U.K currently is shambolic. There is at present no laws protecting workers from having their tips taken away, instead only an optional code of best practice that is vague and relies on the good nature of establishment owners.

When tips are added to a card payment, they become the property of the employer so whether they pass it on is discretionary. As we will all be well aware, since the pandemic card payments have by far become the dominant method of paying, meaning that most tips may never even reach the hands of their intended recipients.

The code of best practice stipulates that employers must make clear to workers how tips will be paid and distributed, but this is again still optional and still allows them to take the tips should they wish.

The legal situation for tips in the U.K currently is shambolic.

Currently, the only laws covering tipping in Britain are to outlaw tips being used to ensure employees are making the minimum wage – meaning that all tips must go on top of their basic pay. This is of course correct, but still means that an unscrupulous employer could take hundreds of pounds of tips from their workforce every night and it be completely legal.

This, for workers that have struggled so much during the pandemic, simply won’t do.

A new bill introduced by Dean Russell MP would ensure that proper systems are in place to ensure that tips are split between workers fairly and prevent employers from taking them.

As we compete for a new working world post-pandemic, workers deserve to be able to keep the rewards for their hard work. Customers deserve to feel confident that when they’re leaving a tip, it’s going to the intended recipient and not their employer.

We need to legislate to ensure that all tips must go to workers, and not their bosses.


If you are a member of Community and need help or advice, please contact us at help@community-tu.org or on 0800 389 6332.



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