Responding to a government announcement today promising a new law on employee tips, Sinn Féin Senator Paul Gavan has called on the government to ensure that any such law establishes a legal right to tips and service charges for employees.
Senator Gavan has championed his own “Protection of Employee Tips Bill” which has passed all stages in the Seanad and is currently at Committee Stage in the Dáil.
Senator Gavan’s Bill would make it illegal for an employer to withhold, deduct, or demand the return of a tip from an employee without a lawful excuse. It would also require employers to display their tipping policy in a suitable manner so that customers and workers have transparency in the distribution of tips.
Speaking today, Senator Gavan said:
“Any move to establish protections and transparency with regard to employee tips for workers in the hospitality and other service sectors is welcome, but such a Bill will only be transformative if it establishes a legal right to both tips and service charges for employees.
“We know that unfortunately there is a problem with employers withholding tips and service charges in the hospitality sector. Research carried out in 2017 showed one in three employees did not receive their tips.
“The issue of service charges not being passed on is particularly important. Customers assume that a service charge will go to employees but many big brand restaurant chains simply use this charge as a means of topping up their own profits.
“The issue of employee tips also has to be seen within a broader context of a hospitality sector where employers have consistently refused to engage with issues of low pay, poor working conditions and trade union recognition. Government must make a clear call for employers to engage with unions and establish a Joint Labour Committee to tackle all of these long outstanding issues.
“It’s time to ensure that employees not only have their hard earned tips, but also have a meaningful say in how their sector operates.”