Is the Government About to Backtrack on Tipping Legislation?

Speculation mounts that government is set to backtrack on their commitment to stop people working in hospitality losing out by employers withholding gratuities/tips.

Under existing rules tips/gratuities cannot be used to top up the national minimum wage, however, employers are not obliged to pass on any additional service charge to their staff.

Last September the government announced that all tips would go to staff under plans to overhaul tipping practices “providing a financial boost to hospitality workers across the country”, citing that research revealed that many businesses that add a discretionary service charge onto customer’s bills are keeping part or all of these service charges, instead of passing them onto staff.

The government said it would make it illegal for employers to withhold tips from workers, in a move to help around 2 million people working in one of the 190,000 businesses across the hospitality, leisure and services sectors, where tipping is commonplace and can make up a large part of their income.

However, according to reports in the Financial Times, there are fears that the Queen’s Speech next week will not include any legislation to ensure fair tipping.

Unions are said to be furious at what they are calling a “betrayal”.

Unite union general secretary Sharon Graham said: “A hospitality worker can lose thousands of pounds a year from their earnings when the employer refuses to hand over their tips. In a sector notorious for long hours and low wages, tipping misappropriation is another abuse. If the Government won’t fix it, Unite will.”

Frances O’Grady, general secretary of the TUC, said: “If the Government fails to bring forward an Employment Bill at next week’s Queen’s Speech it will betray some of the lowest-paid and most vulnerable workers in Britain. Fair tips are just the thin end of the wedge. Without new legislation workers will be denied a host of other vital rights and protections.

“These include fair notice for shifts and payment for cancelled shifts, flexible working rights, and protection from pregnancy discrimination.

“Ministers have no excuse for breaking their pledge to enhance workers’ rights – especially after the scandalous events at P&O. They will have conned working people.”