UK | Labor market

No law for passing on tips to staff

In the UK, there is a dispute over fair tipping regulations.
In the UK, there is a dispute over fair tipping regulations.

British unions have warned the government not to force restaurateurs to pass on the full tip to staff, contrary to earlier promises. Employees could lose thousands of pounds in revenue each year if employers refuse to give them the money, Unite union general secretary Sharon Graham told the Financial Times. The paper quoted a senior government source as saying the plans had been halted for the foreseeable future.

In September, Secretary of State for Business Paul Scully had announced that tipping would in future benefit staff, with no exceptions. Restaurateurs should be prohibited from withholding the amounts. The regulation would benefit two million employees, Scully said at the time. The scheme was to be part of a bill that would in principle provide stronger rights for workers, but is now failing to materialize, according to the FT.

"Every year this government promises to secure a fair tips scheme and then does nothing at all to deliver on that promise," criticized unionist Graham. Trade union confederation TUC general secretary Frances O'Grady said that if the government drops the law, "it is cheating the lowest paid and most vulnerable workers in the UK."

Since Brexit and the introduction of expensive work visas for EU nationals, it has become even harder for restaurateurs to attract skilled workers. Until the U.K.'s EU exit, more workers from the EU than from the U.K. were working in restaurants, cafes and hotels.