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Tipping to be taken off menu

The agonizingly British matter of when to tip, where to tip, and how much to tip, may soon be a thing of the past if the government has its way. A consultation launched in May by Sajid Javid, the Business Secretary proposes to make tipping fairer by clamping down on unjust practices and increasing transparency for consumers. The plans include abolishing the practice of adding a discretionary service charge to the bill, also ensuring that tips go directly to staff by putting the voluntary code of practice on a statutory footing. At the moment, many restaurants add a 10 to 15 per cent charge to the customers’ bill for service but the government argues that the procedure is not clear to the customer who may end up leaving cash for the waiter as well. A further proposal at the consultation was the complete abolishment of the service charge to prevent businesses from suggesting a discretionary payment. Sometimes card machines ask the customer if they want to tip, even when

the service charge has already been added to the bill. Mr Javid believes that the proposals would “secure a better deal for the millions of workers in the service industry” and also make the procedure easier for customers who would still be able to opt in to making a discretionary payment if they wished. With the introduction of the minimum living wage, staff in the hospitality industry are less reliant on tips to earn a decent amount of money. In other countries such as the US where a waiter may earn as little as $2.13 an hour, tips are the lifeblood of the industry. If the new legislation comes into being, Mr Javid also plans to make restaurants give tips to staff rather than keeping all or part of them. In 2015, there was widespread condemnation of restaurant chains such as Pizza Express, Ask Italian and Strada when it was discovered they did not pass tips on to staff. One in five restaurants was found to keep tips, even

though a vast majority of customers said they wanted staff to receive them. Mr Javid said: “We’ve been very clear. As a one nation government, we want workers who earn a tip to be able to keep it. That’s why I, like many others, was disappointed by the tipping practices of some of our well-known chains. This has to change.” At the moment the voluntary code of practice for tipping is overseen by the Hospitality Association. Under new proposals, however, the procedure may become law. Dave Turnbull, Unite Union’s officer for the hospitality sector said: “It is a massive victory for all those waiting staff who have worked tirelessly to expose sharp practices in the hospitality industry. All they want is what any worker wants – to take home what they have earned, no corners cut. “But it will need the support of law to make this happen – it is patently obvious that too many employers do not respect the spirit or word of the voluntary code.”

KFC outlet had faecal contamination on ice

A KFC branch in Birmingham’s Martineau Place, which had only weeks earlier closed for a deep clean following a zero food hygiene rating, turned up high levels of germs showing traces of faeces. The shocking discovery was the result of a BBC TV programme Rip Off Britain. Undercover researchers visited branches of five well-known chains who had recently received the lowest possible food hygiene ratings to check if standards had improved. Although samples from public areas including tables, serving areas and


doors were found to be clean, the researchers also asked for a cup of tap water with ice. At KFC the ice was later discovered to have high levels of faecal coliforms –germs showing traced of faeces - which could increase the risk of getting ill from consuming it. KFC said it was “extremely disappointed” by the results and had “immediately launched an investigation”, in addition to carrying out a “retraining programme” for all team members on standards for touch point cleaning and procedures.

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