Proposed tips legislation small but necessary step in the right direction
Comments come as workers hold ‘Grinch’ protest outside Ivy
December 17th: Unite, which organises workers in the hospitality sector, today (Tuesday) said the announcement by Employment Affairs Minister Regina Doherty that the Payment of Wages Act will be amended to ensure that card tips could not be used to make up a worker’s contractual wages is ‘a small but necessary step’. However, Unite also expressed deep disappointment at the failure to include cash tips and service charges in the scope of legislation.
Speaking at a ‘Grinch’ protest outside luxury restaurant The Ivy, which has been the focus of a campaign against ‘tip theft’, Unite Hospitality Coordinator Julia Marciniak said:
“Thanks to workers, Unite and politicians such as Joan Collins TD, as well as campaign groups such as Communities Against Low Pay, both the government and the public have been aware of the ‘tip theft’ issue since last winter. Although the campaign has focused on the luxury Ivy restaurant, tip theft is widespread throughout the hospitality sector and affects some of the lowest-paid workers in Ireland.
“As far back as April, Unite first called for legislation to ensure restaurants can’t use tips to subsidise their workers’ low pay. While Minister Doherty’s decision to amend the Payment of Wages Act is a step in the right direction, the failure to address the use and misuse of cash tips and service charges means that hospitality workers are still exposed to abuses. For example, ensuring that tips can’t be used to make up a worker’s contractual wages does not prohibit service charges being used to make up the difference.
Ms Marciniak is herself a former worker at The Ivy, and continued:
“Hospitality workers know that restaurants treat service charges as extra income – income that can be used not only to subsidise the restaurant’s wage bill, but also to swell its profits. While Unite welcomes the decision to protect credit card tips, many customers are under the illusion that a service charge is just that and therefore do not tip at all.
“Although the Minister’s stated commitment to ensuring transparency in the distribution of card tips is welcome, it is not clear how this is going to be achieved in practice. There can be no meaningful transparency if workers are forced to depend on their employer for the most important piece of information: what was the total take in card tips?
“Unless all aspects of this issue are addressed, as was the case in Senator Paul Gavan’s bill which the Government has blocked, the hospitality sector will continue to be synonymous with exploitation.
“Unite intends to continue campaigning for strong and enforceable legislation informed by workers’ experiences”, Ms Marciniak concluded.