Business minister Sajid Javid intervened in August after Giraffe, which is owned by Tesco, claimed it would no longer skim off an administration fee on tips.
He said: “While it would not be appropriate to comment on this individual case, as far as I’m concerned, tips belong to the staff. I’m getting increasingly concerned about the practice of some restaurants, and will be taking a serious look into the issues raised.”
This was echoed by Dave Turnbull, regional officer for the Unite union, who said: “Waiting staff are among the UK’s worst-paid employees and are reliant on tips to top up their pay. Customers eating at popular restaurants like Giraffe or Pizza Express expect their tips to be paid in full to staff, not skimmed for an ‘admin’ fee. This is a welcome step by Tesco, which are living up to its motto, and it shows leadership in the industry. Pizza Express and other restaurant chains should follow suit.”
It’s no surprise then that French restaurant chain Côte faced a public backlash after it was claimed that service charges go straight to its head office.
With such mounting pressure, and more than 8,000 people having signed a petition to call on Pizza Express to drop its fee on staff tip, the firm had no choice but to comply.
Richard Hodgson, CEO of Pizza Express, said that payments made on card will now to be fully distributed among employees. A group within the company has elected to also give 30 per cent of card-based tips to cleaners, pizzaiolos and other kitchen staff.
“We have always been, and will continue to be, transparent about our tipping policies,” Hodgson said.
Danny Breithaupt, CEO of the Restaurant Group, which owns Frankie & Benny’s, dropped its admin fee a few years ago. He said his company believed it was wrong to deduct a fee.
“We feel it would be deeply unfair to our employees,” he said. “They are the ones that earned the money after all and I’m certain our customers would want to know that the full tip amount is being paid to their waiter or waitress.”
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