USI calls for legislation to protect staff tips

The Union of Students in Ireland (USI) is calling for legislation that would ensure tips in food outlets are given to staff and not put towards company profits. 

Regina Doherty, Fine Gael politician and Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection is supporting them by preparing legislation that will ban employers from putting the gratuity money back into company profits or using it to meet minimum wage payments.

Upon gaining approval from the government regarding the proposed bill, Doherty stated the new legislation will make bosses “clearly display, for the benefit of workers and customers, their policy on how tips, gratuities and service charges are distributed.”

The push for legislation comes about following controversy over The Ivy restaurant’s policy on tipping.

Last November, management issued a notice declaring staff could no longer take payments from the public due to their inability to “follow procedures and consider the whole team”. 

In the notice, made public by RTÉ LiveLine, The Ivy declared that only management would take payments from customers as a result of the “greed” and “continued bad manners” shown by the front house staff asking guests to pay with cash and not card. 

Representatives from the USI took part in the demonstration outside the restaurant this month, with USI Vice-President for the Dublin Region Craig McHugh saying “We’re here today to stand in solidarity with workers in The Ivy.”

McHugh explained the benefits of this legislation for employees stating “staff deserve their tips, the idea behind a service charge additional to the money you pay for your food not going to those providing the service is ridiculous.”

“The service charge rolled out by The Ivy does not go directly to the staff, it goes straight into company profits: paying in cash means it will go to staff,” he added.

McHugh stated that employees may receive less than their contracted wage from their employer if their pay is supplemented by tips from customers.

Speaking on the current practice of employers using tips to supplement pay, McHugh stated, “it is entirely unacceptable. Those that resist such a change would be standing against the hard earned fruits of workers who are already severely underpaid as The Ivy refuse to become a living wage employer.”

Author: Trudy Feenane

Image Credit: The Ivy