Miller & Carter Steakhouses ripping off staff tips

Restaurant chain’s tipping policy a ‘new low’ for hospitality industry

Reading time: 4 min

Steakhouse chain Miller & Carter has been blasted for ripping off waiting staff by making them pay up to two per cent of the sales they serve out of their tips to give to the kitchen, bar and management.

The policy has led to waiting staff receiving no tips at all and even being in a tip deficit, where they owe money that has to be paid from tips made during future shifts to clear the debt. In many cases, workers are losing hundreds of pounds a month in tips to subsidise the low wages of back of house workers.

One Unite member has also said they have been asked to stump up cash up front to cover the tip deficit, leaving them earning less than the minimum wage for their shift.

The policy, in which a percentage of total sales is used to determine how tips are shared between waiting and non-waiting staff rather than the total amount of tips, has been enacted in around a third of Miller & Carter’s restaurants.

Miller & Carter, which is owned by pub group Mitchells & Butlers, claims each restaurant’s staff voted to enact the policies. Unite has been shown evidence from a number of restaurants, however, that shows staff were given limited options on which tipping system to use, with most restaurants only offering differing versions of a percentage of sales.

Unite general secretary Sharon Graham said, “Miller & Carter are ripping off the tips given to their low paid staff, leaving some workers owing money from future tips at the end of their shift.

“This is a new low, even in an industry notorious for finding any number of ways to unfairly deduct tips.

“Miller & Carter are using this system to make low paid waiting staff compensate for the inadequate wages it pays to bar, kitchen and junior management workers. Unite will be fighting this policy all the way.”

Before the new tipping policies were introduced earlier this month, waiting staff would often pay a flat fee from their tips, the amount of which would be determined by the day and time of the shift, to be shared amongst back of house workers. In other restaurants, a percentage of the service charge collected would be shared.

Even in restaurants where staff may have been given options other than deducting tips to share a percentage of all sales, back of house workers and junior management often comprise the majority of the workforce. This has resulted in votes that have left waiting staff working with a completely unfair tipping policy that can leave them having to pay out future tips.

Unite lead hospitality organiser Bryan Simpson added, “This is one of the worst tips policies we’ve ever come across because it forces low-paid workers to find tips that can never be guaranteed. Our members are already losing hundreds in lost income.

“There is a strongly held fear among our members that they will be brought below the minimum wage by this system. The policy has nothing to do with fairness for staff, it is about the company pitting worker against worker out of greed.”

By Ryan Fletcher