Unite has warned that the government’s failure to introduce the fair tipping legislation it promised a year ago today (October 1) is pushing low paid restaurant workers over the tipping point as unscrupulous bosses continue to get away with using customer tips to supplement low wages.
The warning comes as Carluccio’s becomes the latest restaurant chain to find itself in hot water over a new tipping policy which has left front of house staff, hundreds of pounds worse off a month.
Unite, which has been campaigning for fair tipping for over a decade, has accused the Italian restaurant chain of behaving recklessly and inhumanely over its decision to cut the income of waiting staff in half overnight by including higher paid managers and senior staff in the tronc scheme (a pooling system used to distribute credit and debit card tips.)
A Carluccio’s waiter and Unite member quoted anonymously on Friday’s BBC radio 4 You and Yours programme, said, ‘There was no notice period for the majority and absolutely no consultation or opportunity to express what we as employees think…on average a full time waiter is losing between £400-£600 a month.”
A former Carluccio’s waitress has spoken of her anger at the company’s claims that the new policy was introduced ‘following the success of the trial and its encouraging positive impact’, saying that she worked in the trial restaurants and at no stage was she or her colleagues asked for their feedback.
Unite is concerned at the growing trend of employers pitting low waged workers against each other by bringing in new tipping policies, which redirect card and debit card tips away from minimum waged waiting staff to back of house and more senior staff, in a bid to supplement low wages.
Unite is urging the government to get a move on and bring in the new laws promised at last year’s Conservative party conference to ensure greater fairness and transparency in the pooling and distribution of tips without delay.
Dave Turnbull, Unite national officer for hospitality, said, “The government’s failure to legislate is letting rogue bosses off the hook. It’s time for ministers to deliver the legislation needed to tackle the myriad of tipping scams that still exist without delay.
“Most of the changes to tipping policies we are seeing have nothing to do with ensuring ‘greater fairness’ between front and back of house staff, but are being driven from purely financial reasons,” he added.
“The recruitment and retention crisis in the industry’s kitchens is entirely of its own making, caused by chronic low wages and long hours, but instead of finding extra money to pay these workers, employers are increasingly raiding the credit and debit card tips waiters have come to rely on to make ends meet.
“The Carluccio’s tipping policy is pitting low waged workers against each other and is grossly unfair. Cutting a workers’ income in half over night and without notice is reckless and inhumane,” Turnbull went on to say.
“To be clear under the previous policy our waiting staff members at Carluccio’s shared 35 per cent of their card tips with back of house staff and they were happy with this.
“We are urging the government to introduce the legislation it promised a year ago today at last year’s Conservative party conference to end unfair practices of this kind.”