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03rd May 2016

UK restaurants face ban on adding service charge to bills

No more restaurants ripping off wait staff

Jordan Gold

How much of your tip really goes to the waiting staff?

In a bid to encourage us all to be better people, and to tip our waiting staff more, a new government initiative is proposing that UK restaurants be banned from adding extra service charge to meals.

According to a two-month consultation on common business practices in the UK, many restaurants that add a 10 per cent service charge to the bill are not splitting tips fairly with members of staff.

Other instances found several businesses taking a cut of the tips by way of an “administration fee” or occasions of customers “double tipping” – first on the bill, then again in cash.

The consultation report claims it was set up to “prevent businesses from suggesting any specific discretionary payments for service” and to encourage fair practice in restaurants and pubs.

Business secretary Sajid Javid said a tip had to “go to the people you intended it to go to”, suggesting the announced proposals would stop or limit employer deductions from tips.

However, the report does stipulate that the consumer (you) will still be allowed to leave a “discretionary, voluntary  payment for service” without any prompt of a specific amount from the owner:

“Under this option, discretionary payments for service would become an ‘opt in’ decision for a better informed consumer, who would hold complete discretion towards making any such payment.”

Dave Turnbull, leader of trade union Unite and a prominent figure campaigning for change, called the plans a “massive victory… for waiting staff who have worked tirelessly to expose sharp practices in the hospitality industry”.

On air this week, he told 5Live:

“They’re highly skilled people, they’ve got a lot of customer service skills and it shouldn’t be a situation where restaurant owners and large corporate companies take it for granted that customers are going to subsidise low pay.”