Bill forcing restaurants to hand over tips to staff wins MPs’ backing

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The Guardian

A bill to force restaurants to hand over all tips to their staff, including any service charge, will come into law after winning backing from MPs.

The private members’ bill on tips was put forward by Conservative MP Dean Russell after the delay of a wider Employment Bill, which was intended to include the new rules.

It will make it unlawful for employers to withhold tips and service charges from staff, and give them the right to see an employer’s tipping record in order to bring an employment tribunal.

A new statutory code of practice is also set to be developed to provide businesses and staff with advice on how tips should be distributed.

The government, which formally backed the bill at its second reading in parliament on Friday, where it was passed by MPs, said would benefit more than 2 million workers.

The Unite trade union, however, which has pushed for legislation to protect restaurant workers, said it was not confident the new rules would be adequate.

The union said that proper reform would require scrapping the controversial tronc system, under which a committee of staff members votes on how tips paid on a card are shared out. Unions also want tips distributed through payroll from national insurance.

Dave Turnbull, Unite’s national officer for hospitality, said: “This bill has been long in the making but it certainly cannot be the last word in tips protections. As the union fighting for reform for years, it has been the pressure of the workers that has brought even this first step towards change. It is vital that what is passed into law has the full confidence of the hospitality workforce.

“Sadly, at this stage, we are not confident that these measures will address the problems with tipping practices across the hospitality sector.”

Kate Nicholls, the chief executive of UKHospitality, which represents hundreds of restaurants, bars and pubs, said: “Tips and service charges provide a significant and welcome boost to hospitality employees’ take-home cash. So we’re delighted to see this proposed legislation recommend that employers can set a fair distribution policy for staff, meaning they all benefit.”

The plan to crack down on restaurants keeping waiters and kitchen staff tips was first proposed by the government more than five years ago and promised as recently as September last year.

However, hopes had faded that the new rules would be introduced after a second year of delay for the Employment Bill, which was first promised in December 2019 after Boris Johnson’s general election victory and claimed as a way to improve UK workers’ rights after Brexit.

July 15, 2022 at 10:51PM Sarah Butler

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