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New Rules Allowing Restaurant Staff To Keep Tips Could Come In Despite Employment Bill Being Ditched

Ministers are still committed to helping staff keep more of their tips despite plan being delayed once more (Alamy)

4 min read

The government is set to force restaurants to hand over tips to staff despite legislation which would underpin it being scrapped.

PoliticsHome understands the department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) is moving forward with proposals to stop hospitality bosses from withholding tips from employees, which could be worth £200million to one million workers.

The government's flagship Employment Bill was ditched for a second time from the Queen’s Speech setting out the government’s legislative programme for the next 12 months.

Last year PoliticsHome reported that ministers had agreed to write into law plans devised by a Conservative MP to stop restaurants withholding tips from waiting staff, having been promising to do so since 2016.

After a campaign by Dean Russell, the Tory member for Watford, to pass legislation protecting the money left by customers, the small business minister Paul Scully wrote to him in September confirming the measures will be included in an upcoming Employment Bill.

The wider legislation was set to also introduce a new right for all workers to request a more predictable contract, extend redundancy protections to prevent pregnancy and maternity discrimination, and make flexible working the default.

But despite first being outlined in the 2019 Queen’s Speech, and promised by ministers 20 times since then, concrete plans have failed to materialise.

After it was also missed off this week’s Queen’s Speech the government was accused of an “act of betrayal” and having “conned working people” by the Trades Union Congress.

TUC general secretary Frances O'Grady said the promised new rights for workers “risk being ditched for good”, and it would see "bad bosses celebrating”.

However, it is understood BEIS is still committed to finding a way to change the rules around tips, after a number of high-profile incidents where high-street chains have changed the way tips are allocated to staff, giving more money to management and subsiding the wages of kitchen staff at the expense of those working front of house.

The department said changes to the regulations would benefit hospitality staff by £200million and prevent further unfair tipping practices from returning in the future, but it is still unclear what the exact details of the rules are, or when they will come into force.

Separately PoliticsHome understands the government has indicated that if a backbench MP brought tips legislation forward as a private members bill, they would allow it time to get through Parliament and become law.

Scully appeared to confirm this after Russell quizzed him in the Commons on Thursday as to what was happening with his piece of legislation.

The MP asked the minister if: “He will continue to support me in ensuring that the [Tips] Bill goes through Parliament?”

Scully praised his Tory colleague’s campaign and said: “I reaffirm our commitment to building on my honourable friend’s continuing work in that area.”

A government spokesperson defended the lack of an employment bill in this year’s agenda. 

“Our ambitious legislative programme will enable us to deliver on priorities like growing the economy, which will in turn help address rising living costs and get people into good jobs," they said. 

“We have a strong track record in supporting workers across the UK and protecting and enhancing their rights, including helping more people into work so there are now more employees on the payroll than ever before, raising the national living wage to its highest rate yet and cracking down on enforcing the minimum wage, which is one of the highest in the world.”

The Prime Minister has also asked the Tory MP Matt Warman to lead a review into the Future of Work and how the government can "best support a thriving future UK labour market”.

The former minister’s work will build on existing government commitments, including those made in response to the Taylor Review, which made a host of recommendations on how to improve modern working practises back in July 2017.

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