Sinn Féin Senator, Paul Gavan has called on the Tánaiste Leo Varadkar to strengthen the Government’s Tips Bill as it progresses to Committee stage in the Seanad.
The Bill will establish a legal right for workers to tips made by electronic payment, and also require hotels and restaurants to publish notices outlining their policy on the distribution of tips and service charges.
Senator Gavan has led a campaign for protection of tips for hospitality workers alongside the One Galway movement and trade unions such as SIPTU, Unite and Mandate. He successfully steered his own Protection of Tips Bill through all stages of the last Seanad. Research from NUI Galway has shown that one in four hospitality workers do not receive the tips left by customers.
Welcoming the new Bill, the Limerick Senator said:
“While I was really pleased to see the introduction of this legislation to the House last week, it needs to be strengthened in two key areas. Firstly there is no protection or right of redress for workers as regards the distribution of cash tips. This is a major gap in the Bill.
“Secondly, the Bill does not currently classify mandatory service charges as belonging to the workers in restaurants and hotels. When customers pay a service charge they assume that additional element of their bill is going to the workers, and so rarely leave a tip on top. Unfortunately in many cases this money does not reach the workers at all, but is assumed be part of the business revenue stream. We need to see amendments to ensure service charges go to the workers who provide that service.”
“Workers in the hospitality sector have been campaigning for this Bill for a long time, and while they were pleased to see it published they have also requested that wording around cash tips and service charges are strengthened to ensure more transparency for tips and gratuities and how they are paid to the workers.
“I was made aware of a restaurant worker in Limerick who would see their boss remove their hard earned tips every evening and claim “my restaurant, my tips” and leave the staff without.
“We must ensure that the Bill addresses these concerns and that the Tánaiste is willing to strengthen the Bill to address these. Sinn Féin will be working to table the required amendments, but this could be null and void if the Minister is not going to take them on board.
“For far too long some workers and families have been left high and dry due to the greedy actions of a small but significant minority of employers, now we have a Bill that will begin to address some of these issues so we must ensure it goes the extra mile for these workers.”