It’s Christmastime and with it comes presents, time with family and friends, work parties and very often having a meal out.
In fact, this evening (Friday December 15) marks the night that is considered the biggest night out of the holiday period with the greatest number of Christmas parties. Bars and restaurants will be brimming with revellers as staff scramble to make sure we’re attended to.
It’s thanks to them that we’re able to have a fun night out. We often show our gratitude by tipping especially at this time of year but what many people don’t know is that restaurant staff often don’t see the tips you’ve given them.
As Unite has highlighted in the video below, a ‘discretionary’ service charge that’s automatically added to your bill – it’s usually about 12.5 per cent – is not the same as a tip.
It legally belongs to the business and it’s used in many cases to pay for till shortages, customer walkouts, breakages or to top up manager’s wages. In some restaurants, staff don’t see a single penny of the service charge. And if you tip by card, some restaurants will skim a percentage of this tip in ‘admin fees’, often without a patron’s knowledge.
That’s why this Christmas, Unite is asking that you request that any service charge be removed from the bill – and if you’re paying by card, leave a tip separately in cash.
One Unite member explained how in places where she’s worked before, management has specifically told staff not to tell customers that they don’t get their fair share of the tips.
Another member tells of how low-wages – a large percentage of restaurant workers earn only the minimum wage – means tips become a lifeline.
“[Tips] sort my food out; and my travel out,” he says.
Unite regional officer Dave Turnbull urged people to “spare a thought for their server and tip in cash this Christmas” as “restaurant workers and bartenders brace themselves for their busiest night of the festive period.”
“If you want to show your appreciation for good service then please tip in cash,” he said. “A cash tip is much more likely to go to the people who deserve it; the low paid waiters and kitchen staff who helped make your night special and not gobbled up by greedy bosses.
“Customers need to beware that service charge is not a tip. In some restaurants workers may not get a penny of it. It belongs to the business so they can do what they like with it, using it to cover everything from customers walking out with paying to topping up senior staff wages. This is why we’re urging diners to get it taken off and tip in cash this Christmas.
Turnbull also said the most festive day of the year should be used as a clarion call to the government to get its house in order over its inquiry into tipping practices.
The government launched a two-month consultation in May last year over dodgy tipping practices. But 19 months after submissions to the consultation closed, the long-promised report is yet to be published.
“The government needs to stop dragging its feet and release its long overdue report on tipping,” Turnbull said. “Until it does rogue bosses will continue to find new loopholes to exploit and the confusion around tipping will persist.”
Unite will be pushing the message to tip on cash on all its social media channels today and throughout the festive period. Join us in getting the word out and share our ViF below: