Another week, another development in the tipping row

tipping.in_.restaurant.money_.on_.plate_The tipping tornado, which has sucked big names like Côte, Bill’s, Las Iguanas and PizzaExpress into the eye of its storm, continues to gather momentum. Now the government has weighed in with business secretary Sajid Javid ordering an investigation into what he describes as the ‘abuse’ of tipping in restaurants. The minister said he was ‘increasingly concerned’ about the practice of some restaurants and ‘would be looking at the issue closely’.

The investigation will look into the possibility of introducing a cap on the percentage of tips restaurants can withhold from staff. Trade union body Unite – who protested outside PizzaExpress last month – said this doesn’t go far enough and would be impossible to police.

Our solution would be to ditch the tip entirely, and it seems that the majority of our readers agree. Over 64% of people who took part in our poll said they would prefer to do away with the practice entirely. Please tell us your thoughts. 

The row erupted in August when PizzaExpress were denounced for charging up to 8% for administration costs on tips left electronically. Côte and Bill’s were then accused of pocketing not just a percentage of gratuities but the entire amount. And Las Iguanas and Turtle Bay come under fire for effectively forcing staff to ‘pay to work’.

Both restaurant groups require staff to pay the company three per cent of the table sales they generate each shift. Or in the case of Las Iguanas’s London sites, 5.5%. The payments come out of waiters’ tips, but if staff don’t earn enough tips then it comes out of their wage packets.

A petition stop this practice has been started by 38 Degrees. Find out more here.

Meanwhile a member of Côte staff blew the whistle on its employer’s practice of retaining all service charges and barring waiters from keeping cash tips – claims that the French brasserie chain vehemently denies. The group admits to taking the 12.5% service charge, but says it evenly distributes gratuities among staff. Further revelations in the Evening Standard also accused Bill’s of the same practice.

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