Tipping The Balance

The restaurant chains who use gratuities to top up staff pay

Related Links

Love Children But Couldn’t Eat A Whole One..

Things We Hate Most About Customers… Local restaurateurs turn the tables on difficult diners

Eating out in Chiswick


Sign up for our free weekly newsletter

Vote in the Chiswick Restaurant Poll

A campaign launched by The Independent for fairer tipping has highlighted a number of well known restaurant chains who use gratuities left by customers to top up staff pay packets.

The newspaper has reported how Carluccio's, Café Rouge, Strada and Caffé Uno ‘funnel tips into paying basic wages’ whilst others, such as Zizzi and ASK, fail to pass on gratuities on credit and debit cards as rewards. As the campaign gathered momentum, it was also revealed that Clapham House Group, who own Tootsies and Gourmet Burger Kitchen, only give a "proportion" of the 12.5 per cent service charge automatically added to bills to their staff.

Under the current law, restaurateurs are legally entitled to do more or less whatever they wish with tips. Service may or may not be included in the bill, typically with a "discretionary" 10 per cent or 12.5 per cent service charge.

The campaign has won the backing of leading chefs, including Marco Pierre White and Gordon Ramsey who both own restaurants in Chiswick as well as politicians and a number of restaurant guides.

Co-owner of Frankie’s Bar & Grill Marco Pierre White said, "Staff work very hard and I think all tips should go to them."

Fishworks founder Mich Tonks said, “I think the policies operated by some restaurants are appalling. I'm a traditional restaurateur; a service charge is a reward for good service and staff should keep it. It's fair for restaurants to keep a proportion of the service charge to pay for staff drinks and administration, but nowhere near as much as some do. I don't agree that restaurants should profit at all from tips."

The Independent has set out three simple guidelines for fair treatment of waiting staff, asking that the Government introduce legislation to end the widespread unfair tipping practices adopted by many of Britain's restaurants:

1) All restaurants should operate a fair, clear and transparent policy for distributing service charges and gratuities to their staff.

2) All restaurants should display their policy on service charges and gratuities clearly on all their menus.

3) All restaurant waiting staff should be guaranteed a basic salary of at least the minimum wage, excluding gratuities.

July 23, 2008