By Callum Sloper
Back in 2015, the public became suddenly aware of a practice that many chain restaurants were partaking in whereby tips left for waiting staff were having deductions made by the business itself. This overwhelmingly concerned tips paid by credit and debit cards, so most chains simply reduced the deductions they were making to a standard 2.5% to cover card charge fees. The public outrage fizzled out and new rules came into play in 2016 giving waiting staff more guarantee to keep tips they earned, although it was never directly legislated.
For about four years I worked on and off as a waiter in a Bangladeshi restaurant in my hometown where we would receive tips in both cash and as part of card payments. We never had deductions made on tips received from card payments due to the pooling system we used. The etiquette there was to pool the money from both means by writing every tip received onto a piece of paper and later dividing the total sum by the number of employees working that night. This would include the chefs, as many other restaurants do when distributing tips, but also kitchen porters in our case. Admittedly, it’s a bit demoralising when the total you personally handle in tips is well over £50 but it’s reduced to some £6 or £7 due to pooling, although this is something you live with as your colleagues will have likely been working just as hard as you.
Most restaurants operate a similar system naturally as it’s the fairest way to make sure that everyone receives financial compliments from the customers for their efforts irrespective of government legislation. While it’s a good thing that workers have extra protection for retaining their tips it’s now far too late and instead the industry has already sorted out its own shortcomings. New legislation could affect the way many restaurants share tips with back of house staff and cause unexpected issues. Had this been done a few years ago it would be very welcome but now it seems to be unnecessary and potentially more hassle than it’s worth.