Steakhouse waiters revolt over policy which leaves them in 'tip debt'
Steakhouse waiters revolt over new policy which leaves them in ‘tip debt’ if customers don’t give enough gratuity
- A petition has now been created to change the policy in Cardiff and Swansea
Waiters at a national steak chain have launched a petition to stop the company from taking hundreds of pounds a month from their tips to ‘to subsidise the poor wages of the kitchen and bar team’.
Miller & Carter Steakhouse implemented a controversial fixed pay-up policy that forced waiters to share a chunk of their tips with kitchen, bar and management staff – but not general managers.
Now a petition has been created and has already been signed by 6725 people to stop the policy in Cardiff Bay, Cardiff city centre and Killay, Swansea.
The policy, which allegedly forces the waiters to hand over in tips the equivalent of 1.5 per cent of the gross sales from their tables, regardless of how much they have made in tips, has left waiters terrified of going into ‘tip debt’.
Miller & Carter Steakhouse implemented a controversial fixed pay-up policy that forces waiters to share a chunk of their tips with kitchen, bar and management staff
The policy, which is claimed to take 1.5 per cent of a waiters gross sales across all their tables regardless of how much their tips were from customers, has left waiters terrified of going into ‘tip debt’
‘Tip debt’ is a term used by the teams that means if they are not given enough gratuity to cover the percentage of gross sales, the amount owed would be taken from tips made in future shifts.
Bryan Simpson, one of the organisers of the Unite petition, ‘Give us back our tips’, said: ‘Previously, waiters had to ‘tip-out’ to the kitchen and bar around 20-25 per cent of their tips.
‘Now they have to find 2p per cent of *gross sales* which is a huge increase and means that some are already going into tip debt…
‘They cannot possibly sustain the levels of tips they are expected to collect to subsidise the poor wages of the kitchen and bar team.’
Miller & Carter have said that each branch ‘democratically decides on its own tip distribution policy’ through a vote.
But the employees in Cardiff have complained that the back-of-house staff outnumbered the front-of-house team therefore the vote is skewed.
One waiter in Cardiff said that workers had been left in tears and even quit their jobs over the policy.
He added: ‘It is reaching a point where it is not possible to carry on.
‘We are willing to share our tips with other team members but not in this way.’
A collective grievance was sent to the CEO of Miller & Carter by around 80 per cent of staff at the two branches in Cardiff.
A collective grievance was sent to the CEO of Miller & Carter by around 80 per cent of staff at the two branches in Cardiff
With the backing of Unite the Union they are calling on CEO Phil Urban to implement a ‘genuinely democratic Fair Tips Committee to be elected at every restaurant without management interference’.
In a statement, Unite said: ‘A week ago, 80 per cent of workers at Miller & Carter in both Cardiff restaurants sent a collective grievance to the CEO of Mitchells & Butlers about an unfair tipping policy.
‘Within days, their hours were cut by up to 60 per cent.’
The restaurant chain denies any link between the grievance and its shift of work pattern.
Following the complaints Miller & Carter confirmed some of its restaurants in Wales would be ‘re-running the voting process’ following complaints.
With the backing of Unite the Union they are calling on CEO Phil Urban to implement a ‘genuinely democratic Fair Tips Committee to be elected at every restaurant without management interference’
A Miller & Carter spokesman said: ‘There has been no change to the approach taken in deciding the distribution of tips at Miller & Carter. To suggest so would be fundamentally untrue.
‘There are currently 124 Miller & Carter venues across the UK. Each team in each individual site democratically decides on its own tip distribution policy.
‘Some teams in venues may adopt similar options, but those options are down to each team across all businesses who take a vote once a year, every year.
‘The final decision on voting options is down to individual teams and to date, there are more than 70 variations across Miller & Carter of the way teams distribute tips.
‘General managers are not involved in the vote and do not receive the benefits of tips. All other members of staff are encouraged to participate in the annual process of how times will be allocated amongst the team to ensure fairness for all.
‘Members of staff will never be asked to contribute towards the tipping procedure from their own wages. Although the process has been run fairly, we can confirm that the businesses in Wales will be re-running the voting process on tips allocation following feedback.’
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