Tipping to get a lot fairer (and simpler) in the UK

Oct, 01 2021
Tipping to get a lot fairer (and simpler) in the UK

I don’t know about you, but when I receive good service, I like to tip. In fact, providing a don’t receive bad service, I tip. Along with many other people in the UK, I’m aware that service staff aren’t always paid as much as they deserve to be. It’s a tough time for the industry and many service staff rely on tips to boost their income to an acceptable level.

Most of us now tip with our cards. I rarely have the right change on me to put down on the table, so on the card it goes. But there’s always that nagging question in my head: “will my waiter actually see any of this money?”

Now, thanks to new legislation intended to stop restaurants from holding onto tips meant for their service staff, diners will no longer need to worry. And with easy, personalised QR-code based tipping tools, like those offered by Leslie, keeping tabs on card-based tips has never been easier for owners and managers.

So what’s changing?

Business Secretary Kwasi Kwarteng, has announced new legislation that will outlaw the practice of restaurants keeping card payment tips to themselves. Currently, restaurants are legally allowed to keep tips paid on cards. Research carried out in 2016 found that as many as two-thirds of businesses were skimming from the tips paid on cards to help boost their ability to pay staff. This meant that restaurants that do the right thing and ensure all the tips go directly to staff, are on the back-foot when it comes to competing with rivals in the industry.

Pressure has been mounting from the union Unite, who campaigned for the government to take steps to change the law to prevent restaurants skimming from card tips. The issue became even more important in 2020 and 2021 as more and more people began paying on cards due to the pandemic. Cash tips are almost unheard of in today’s contactless society and it’s likely to stay that way.

With pressure on wages, and tips failing to make their way to waiting staff’s pockets. Unite says low-paid staff are currently missing out on up to £2,000 a year in wages and tips. Something clearly has to give.

The growing tide of pressure on the government hasn’t gone unnoticed, it seems. Kwarteng is about to change the laws around tipping, which will require 100% of tips made in cash or card to go directly to service staff. A source at Whitehall, reported by the Daily Mail, said: “Workers going above and beyond for their customers can rest assured hard-earned tips will go directly in their pocket and nobody else’s.”

So that’s no more skimming. No more topping up wages with tips. And a much more level playing field for restaurants. Pubs and cafes. Hurrah!

But how do restaurants split e-tips fairly?

This new piece of legislation does throw up a few challenges for restaurateurs. If you want to make sure tips go to the specific member of staff who served a specific customer, how do you do it simply and easily?

Leslie’s tipping tool, Tip Me, allows each member of your staff to use a unique QR code. Customers then tap this to allocate a tip to that member of staff. The tip goes straight to their bank account and bam! They’re a few pounds richer.

Needless to say, we wholeheartedly welcome any legislation that will boost pay and conditions for service staff working in the hospitality sector. We also support restaurants that do the right thing by their staff and divvy out the tips fairly.

Pretty soon we can all go out to eat with the knowledge that the tip we leave will end up in the right pocket.