Unite wins of the year - Republic of Ireland tips legislation

On the twelfth day of Christmas, UniteLive looks back at key victory for all hospitality workers in the Republic of Ireland

Reading time: 4 min

2022 has been the year of Unite wins – under general secretary Sharon Graham, Unite has had more victories in the workplace than it can count. As part of our special 12 days of Christmas series, UniteLive looks back at a handful of the many wins we’ve had in every month throughout the year.

Today, we reflect on our final win of the year, which took place in December. This particular victory is special because it will have a positive impact on all workers who receive tips in the Republic of Ireland.

The victory happened on December 1st — a day that hundreds of thousands of hospitality workers in the Republic of Ireland will remember, because it’s the day that they’ve reclaimed what’s rightfully theirs.

Up until December 1, workers in Ireland’s hotels, restaurants and other establishments where tipping is customary, had long been the victims of theft on a grand scale.

But thanks in large part to Unite, it is now illegal for employers to keep tips left for staff, whether that’s cash or card tips, or service charges.

Before, workers had no legal claim to any tips – and unscrupulous employers would often pinch card tips and service charges. They’d shamelessly use these gratuities left by well-meaning but unsuspecting customers to help pay staff’s contractual wages or other business expenses.

Unite in the Republic of Ireland had long lobbied for strong tips legislation, with the union’s hospitality sector leading the way over the years, and finally that work has borne fruit.

Under the legislation that went into effect on December 1, employers cannot take tips from workers or use them to pay staff wages. Credit charges are deemed to be tips and again cannot be taken from workers.

Employers must consult with staff on the distribution of electronic tips, which must be distributed fairly and transparently. Bosses will be obliged to give staff a statement of tips received over a specific period of time, and how much of this was specifically distributed to each individual worker.

All establishments are also now legally obligated to clearly and publicly post a notice visible to customers that outlines how, exactly, cash and card tips are distributed among staff.

Unite hospitality and tourism co-ordinator Julia Marciniak, who played an integral role in lobbying for the change, told UniteLive, “I’m very proud of the work we did to make tips legislation a reality. This all started with just a handful of workers, mostly migrant workers, and now thanks to our collective efforts through our union Unite, we’ve made a huge difference for hundreds of thousands of people in this country, and millions more in the years to come.”

We hope you enjoyed our special 12 days of Christmas series, where we’ve highlighted a number of Unite’s wins in 2022. After reading, we hope it inspires Unite members to become more involved in their union. For those of you who aren’t yet members, there’s no better way to start the new year than by joining Unite now.

We wish all our readers a happy New Year – here’s to many more Unite wins in 2023!

By UniteLive team