Limerick Sinn Féin Senator Paul Gavan has today welcomed the introduction of a new Tips Bill, which will now give employees a legal entitlement to their tips and gratuities.
Seanadóir Gavan said:
“A lot of the praise for the introduction of this Bill must go to the Trade Union movement, particularly SIPTU, Unite, Mandate and the ONE Galway Campaign.
“Alongside the unions, three years ago I introduced a Tips Bill to the Seanad that was blocked by members of our current government. But in true union fashion, the pressure did not stop.
“So today the Minister has finally moved to introduce this bill at second stage in the Seanad, and I welcome this as a significant win for workers and their families.
“Many workers in the hospitality sector are on low wages and insecure contracts. These workers depend on tips to ensure they have enough money to get by and pay essential bills.
“Yet research has shown that tips have been retained by employers in one in four cases across the sector.
“This bill offers protection to workers for their tips, especially tips made by electronic payment, and also offers customers greater transparency by requiring employers to prominently display their policy redistribution of tips.
“I look forward to engaging meaningfully with the Tánaiste Leo Varadkar on this bill at committee stage when my Sinn Féin colleagues and I will be tabling amendments to ensure that this bill is as strong as possible in protecting workers rights to their tips.
“A concerning element of this bill is the lack of clarity around ‘service charges’.
“Most customers, when charged a service charge, assume that this money is paid to the staff, when in many instances this is not the case. We will be looking to see how money paid as service charges can be legally protected for the workers who earn them.”
Senator Gavan also called for a wider debate around pay and conditions across the hospitality sector.
He added: “Forty three percent of minimum wage workers in this state are employed across the hospitality, wholesale and retail sectors.
“Ten years ago, legislation was passed to reconstitute Joint Labour Committees as a means of setting pay and conditions and lifting standards for these sectors.
“Unfortunately, hospitality employer bodies have refused to engage with trade unions to make these a reality. There is no little irony in these same employer groups now constantly complaining that they can’t get staff.
“The government, who has given very significant subsidies to this sector, now need to insist that employer groups play their part in setting higher standards through engagement in the JLC process.”
“Finally I would like to personally thank the ONE Galway movement for the tremendous work they have put into campaigning for Tips Justice for a number of years now.
“This movement, comprising trade unions, student unions, academics and community groups, has worked tirelessly to ensure that government finally felt compelled to act on this issue.”