herald

Wednesday 29 January 2020

Restaurant staff to have right to a 'fair' share of tips by law

Minister Regina Doherty
Minister Regina Doherty

Restaurant workers will have the right to a "fair" and "transparent" share of tips paid by credit and debit cards under Government plans to reform the area.

Employment Affairs Minister Regina Doherty intends to change the law to ensure tips can't be used as part of an employee's core wages. Now tips made through electronic payments are set to be regulated for the first time as well.

While the new laws won't come into force ahead of the Christmas party season, Ms Doherty has been given approval to process the changes "as quickly as possible".

The Payment of Wages (Amendment) Bill 2019 will outlaw the use of tips or gratuities to "make up" a person's full salary.

Employers will also be required to display their policy on tips and service charges in their premises.

Ms Doherty has now received approval to include a legal right for workers to receive tips paid electronically "on a fair, transparent and equitable basis".

Ms Doherty told the Herald that her officials had consulted with unions who had been campaigning on the issue of tips.

"I want to go as far as I can in securing a legal entitlement for low-paid workers to their hard-earned tips," she said.

The Low Pay Commission has advised that regulations for cash tips can't be designed as they're not centrally controlled.

"However, I hope we can create a new piece of legislation that gives employees an entitlement to tips paid in electronic form," Ms Doherty said.

She added she wants those tips shared with workers in a "fair and transparent manner".

Ms Doherty said definitions of what is fair will vary between establishments and it will be left up to staff and employers to "work out together the best way to share those tips".

"I understand this to be the preference of most workers," she added.

Problem

She said it will be "obligatory" for employers to be transparent with staff and customers about how tips are shared and used.

Moves to regulate the area come despite the Low Pay Commission finding there was insufficient data to prove the issue of employers withholding tips was a significant problem here.

It follows a high-profile dispute between management and waiters at the upmarket Ivy Restaurant in Dublin last year.

The restaurant accused waiters of failing to share gratuities with other workers while some staff claimed that tips were being used to supplement wages.

The Ivy insisted that tips were shared by all staff and paid in addition to wages.

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