Are Côte restaurants taking all the staffs' tips?

21 August 2015

tip jar We learned of Pizza Express's 'unique' approach when it came to the tips their staff get, but the Côte restaurant is taking it to the next level. And they're annoying us because Côte has a special character in it that we have to keep typing out.

So what's occurring? Well, Côte are apparently taking all the tips that they automatically add to bills, and the staff don't see any of it. That 12.5% they add goes straight to the company, which customers thought were going to the pockets of service staff.

Côte has 72 restaurants, and has defended themselves by saying that it allows them to pay their staff a higher hourly rate, of around £7.50/£8. According to the Standard, a staff member said: "We are told by management that we don’t get to keep the service charge because we get paid more than the minimum wage, so we should be grateful, but most of us would prefer earning the minimum wage and taking home our tips for the hard work we do."

The Standard add that staff are told to tell customers who enquire about the tips, that the service charges are dished out between workers. While that is technically true, it seems odd that a business would go about raising wages this way. The charge is automatically added to a customers bill, but they can ask to have it taken off, once they've paid up.

Another member of staff said that any cash tips are to be handed over to the company: "One night I was waiting a large group and had to split the bill for each guest. At the end they left a £100 cash tip, but I was forced to hand it over to my manager and never saw that money again."

Iain Wright MP, chairman of the Business Select Committee, said: "When you go into a restaurant you have a direct relationship with that waiter and you want to reward them for looking after you. I’m particularly outraged that the firm would tell staff to essentially lie to customers. If I say to someone serving me in a restaurant, “do you get the service charge” I expect it to go 100% to them as a tip for great service. For Côte to say it’s going to the bottom line rather than in people’s pockets is unacceptable."

"There’s a principle of making sure the tips that you give over and above the bill of the restaurant is given to the staff. It’s hugely important and should be given 100% to the staff to show your thanks. I think we have to expose some of the negative business practices that don’t help the staff."

"This seems to be the tip of the iceberg. There’s a principle of making sure the tips that you give over and above the bill of the restaurant is given to the staff. It’s hugely important and should be given 100% to the staff to show your thanks. I think we have to expose some of the negative business practices that don’t help the staff."

This follows the news that Côte have seen their profits jumping up by 27% last year, to £16.3 million.

A spokesperson for Côte said: "At Cote the optional service charge is used to increase the pay of all restaurant level staff above what would typically be seen as market standard. Whereas the base salary for a waitress in the industry would typically be minimum wage, currently £6.50 per hour, we are able to pay more like £7.50-8.00 per hour through using the service charge."

"This applies to all restaurant level staff, as good service is a team effort from the person serving the food to the person cooking the food or cleaning the kitchen."

TOPICS:   High Street News   Restaurants

2 comments

  • Cheesey
    Cote have said otherwise in a statement on their homepage: "We can confirm that, contrary to recent press reports, Côte distributes the service charge income to the restaurant level employees at which the service charge was collected. The individual restaurant manager allocates the service charge across all restaurant level employees, as we believe it is important to recognise those preparing the food or cleaning the kitchen, in addition to the front of house staff. This service charge element of compensation is always paid in addition to a base amount which is at least equal to the national minimum wage. It is paid through the payroll, net of taxes and NI. As such, the company does not recognise the service charge as revenues in its accounts. Company policy is that where customers leave a cash tip, it is at the waiters' discretion to keep it for themselves or to include it in a general pot with other members of staff. Any deviation from this policy will be investigated and disciplinary action taken where appropriate." I'm smelling "tartes porky français" from Cote.
  • Jaffacake
    So no-one should ever give a tip there, and the staff won't mind. Problem solved.

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