Wellbeing & Benefits

The department store Harrods has promised to improve the tipping system for staff in its restaurants, following a threat of industrial action.

The union that represents some of the 483 hospitality workers in the store had complained they were not getting their fair share of the service charge.

The United Voices of the World (UVW) union complained that Harrods was keeping 75% of the cash left by diners. That left staff in Harrods restaurants getting just 25% of each tip.

Harrods did not confirm that was the case, but said it would be improving the current distribution system, known as a tronc.

However the UVW union, which represents around a thousand low-paid migrant workers in the UK, said the store’s promise of improvement was too slow.

“The staff want transparency over the distribution of the service charge,” said the UVW’s general secretary, Petros Elia. “They do not know how much Harrods are retaining for themselves.”

He said the union was considering a ballot for industrial action, if there was no immediate improvement. “It’s on the table as a possibility,” he told the BBC.

Harrods said the employees would be given details of the new system, as soon as a review was complete.

There is currently no law requiring restaurants to hand over all the tips to their staff.

However the Business Secretary, Sajid Javid, has said that gratuities should go to the people they were intended for. In May 2016 the government highlighted a range of options to improve the tipping system, including the idea of legislation.

Industry guidelines suggest restaurants can keep a proportion of tips, to cover their costs. If they retain any more than that, customers should be clearly informed, according to the British Hospitality Association’s code of practice.

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