Government plans fairer deal on restaurant tips Tips no longer to be used to make up minimum wage

26 November 2008

dining room of a restaurant

The Good Food Guide names its best UK restaurants

The government has launched proposals to make tips fairer for service staff in the UK.

Earlier this year when it was revealed that tax rules allow restaurants to use tips processed through the payroll to top up staff wages to meet the £5.73 per hour minimum wage. Some restaurants were exposed for doing this.

Under the proposed plans, employers will be banned from using any tips or service charges to make up the minimum wage for staff.

Tipping policy

Employment minister Pat McFadden said: ‘When people leave a tip they expect it to go to staff on top of their pay, not to be used to make up the minimum wage. This is an issue of fairness and common sense.’

As well as inviting comments on proposals to change the rules so that tips are paid on top of the national minimum wage, the consultation will also look at ways of improving information for consumers.

When changes to the law take effect, a code of oractice could provide guidance on issues such as how to distribute tips among staff.

You can search for top rated restaurants in your area reviewed by the experts using our Good Food Guide online search tool.

Tipping habits

When Which? surveyed 1,000 members of the public about their tipping habits earlier this year, three quarters said they left a tip at least sometimes when they ate out.

But when it came to receiving bad service in restaurants, half said they wouldn't ask for automatically added service charges to be cut or taken off the bill.

Just over half of people surveyed left a tip of 10% or more with only one in five choosing to tip a smaller amount of around 5% even if they receive good service.

A quarter of people said they leave an extra tip even if a service charge has been added to their bill. This double tipping is possible in restaurants where tips are automatically included on the bill and the credit card slip or machine is left open for a second tip.

Find out more about if and when you need to tip in our guide. 

Tips on tipping

  • Ask restaurant staff where tips go. Avoid putting your waiter or waitress in a difficult position by speaking to the restaurant manager.
  • If staff do not get a share of the service charge, ask for it to be removed from the bill and pay the actual charge in cash to the waiter.
  • Reduce or remove service charges added to your bill if you feel you have received poor service. Tell the restaurant why you have altered the service charge.
  • Give what you think is fair, regardless of protocol as a gratuity.

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