Waiting staff no better off under new tipping laws

8 June 2009

When you’re eating out in a fancy restaurant (or even a scummy one) how much do you usually tip? And do you have any idea where that tip goes? Because it doesn’t always end up in the pockets of the staff who have served you… and a new law aimed at closing that loophole won’t change a thing.

At the moment, restaurants can pay staff below the £5.73 minimum wage, making up the shortfall from their tips, but under the new law, the full minimum wage must be paid by the restaurant. However, there is nothing to stop all tips from ending up in the greasy palms of the restaurateur and no law forcing them to display their tipping policy, so that the diner has no idea where the tip will end up.

According to the British Hospitality Association, approximately a fifth of the UK's 30,000 restaurants do not pass on tips to waiters. This flies in the face of a YouGov survey from January which showed that 94% of customers wanted gratuities to go straight to staff. 79% of those surveyed thought tipping policies should be clearly displayed .

You can help to stop tips from being diverted away from waiting staff by paying all gratuities in cash and asking restaurant management what their tip policy is. Remember, service charge is usually optional so if you’re not happy, don’t pay anything. Or find out where your waiter lives and drop the money off in person at a later date. No, don’t do that, it would be too weird.

Let us know your tipping tales of woe or otherwise. Maybe you’ve worked in a restaurant and been stiffed by the management when it comes to sharing out the gratuities. Or perhaps you know of a restaurant that lets staff keep 100%. And if you'd like to tip us, cash in a brown envelope would be nice thanks.

[The Observer]

TOPICS:   Restaurants

13 comments

  • Lee
    I get a bit annoyed about tips working in a bar/venue myself. Lately we rarely get more than 50p a shift. Which is awful. It's a shame nobody realises how small tips can make a difference to staff. For example I work in a 300 capacity venue. If every person tipped 10p per visit the 6 staff would receive £6 each. Which completely makes a difference! Even better, if everyone tipped 50p per visit, the staff would receive £30 each, which almost doubles their pay. Who would miss an extra 50p on a night out?
  • Spooph
    Thats a very fair point. I always make an effort to give the tip to the person serving and not leaving it for any of the staff to pick up and never ''add gratuity'' for paying on card.
  • The B.
    Depends on the staff, I used to work bars in venues when I was at Uni and I still tip bar staff if they're any good, most of them don't know their arse from their elbow though, standing there gassing with their mates, it's a business not a playground.
  • Jill
    I find it unfair waiters etc. get tips for carrying food to the table etc. yet I get nothing for standing behind a till all day serving customers. It's a bit arrogant to get annoyed that people aren't giving you money just for doing your job.
  • Francis R.
    If I think a waitress/waiter deserves a tip, they'll get one, and a good one, but I want to know it goes in their pocket and not the managers or shared amongst the others, who may have done nothing to deserve a 'cut'
  • acecatcher3
    whenever we go out for meals we always tip, 10% of the bill isnt it?
  • Emma
    I used to work in a restaurant and the tips were shared between the waiting staff, and the kitchen staff. I wasn't happy about the tips going to the kitchen staff, as they were on high wages to start with. The tips are for services rendered, and it's the waiters and waitresses who render it!
  • Hairy S.
    I dont see why we should tip. Surely the price of food/drink etc factors in the employees actual wage. Tipping just gives the employer an excuse not to give an employee a decent pay packet on slow days, As well as ripping off the customer by advertising their food/drinks at a price which really is not what the customer actually pays. I used to work in a bar, and only took tips if people insisted, i reckoned that the drink was expensive enough without havin to tip on top of the bill.
  • Chairman
    http://i101.photobucket.com/albums/m78/aarrgghhv2/smallestviolinwz4.jpg
  • vinylandtrinkets
    Having been a restaurant manager for many years in high end branded hotels, all the tips given to the waiting staff was always shared out at the end of the month, my last hotel every month the staff walked away with over £100 tax free. But when i worked in the states as a waitress you earn on average $2.55 to $3.00 an hour and rely on tips to make any money, somedays you made rubbish tips and others you made a huge amount. The laws in the UK regarding this stink but most branded hotels will either share ALL the tips between the staff ( including kitchen staff) or let the staff keep them at the end of shifts. Emma the chefs in the kitchen have trained for years to become chef's and earn higher wages, but if they didnt cook the food or pot wash clean the dishes YOU wouldnt have anything to serve the guests to make any tips! Most unqualified " Chef's" earn the same as you do
  • A
    Never tip, never will. Unless they provide some sort of EXTREMELY out-of-the-ordinary service.
  • Uncle T.
    Posted by A "Never tip, never will. Unless they provide some sort of EXTREMELY out-of-the-ordinary service." yeah, like a BJ under the table from the waitress.
  • Mark
    Well now, tipping. My wife and I ALWAYS tip, unless we get very poor service. Our daughter works at a large seafront hotel and also at a hospitality suite at a major football ground. She works at these jobs whilst doing studies at one of the London universities. For both jobs she gets pretty lousy wages, but this has not deterred her from getting out there and trying to be independent. At least she is not living in a council flat with 3 kids and claiming every benefit under the sun! It really annoys me that she seldom gets tips, and when she does they are usually very small. When we go out to a restaurant we usually tip around 10% of the final bill, provided we get reasonable service. So many people are just plain tight fisted and mean. When we went to the USA we had great service and the staff really appreciated being tipped, as is the norm over there. I read somewhere that the Americans tend to dislike the hoards of shell suited Brits and their children holidaying in Florida, as they just don't tip. So come on Britain stop acting like Kangaroos (deep pouches but short arms!), and stop being so stingy. Leave a pound or two with a smile and just say thank you, it makes a world of difference to an underpaid and overworked staff member.

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