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The Iceberg is Here - By Howard Field

It’s all happening now and what are we going to do about it ?  

The hospitality industry is enormous and vitally important to the UK economy.  How does it happen that a subject like this falls on to the government to dictate to the industry what should be good practices?  The handling of tips, service and cover charges is a subject that is riddled with out of date practices, lacking any common standards and confusing to all of the parties involved.  It can not properly be dealt with in such a short space of time with such limited relevant input.  

The latest announcement by the Business Secretary Sajid Javid and immediate press and media coverage suggest that little that is new has been uncovered by the BIS Call for Evidence survey.   The survey itself is based on fewer than 200 responses on a subject that is of relevance to ‘some 150,000 businesses', and an unstated number of employees and public who are affected in some way by it. 

As a result, a new document titled ‘Government consultation on tipping, gratuities, cover and service charges’ has been published, with  a deadline for responses of 27 June.  

The document attempts to set out various options and its length and scope does more to illustrate the complexity of the subject than it does to identify and address the fundamental issues. 

Why is the industry in such a mess with this whole subject ?

What is so different about the hospitality industry that it justifies such practices ?

What hospitality industry activities other than restaurants and bars generate tips and service charges ?

Why is there no standard so that employees, the public and visitors to the UK know where they stand ?

Why are the contradictory legal, wage and tax rules not being fully addressed ?

If progress is to be made to bring the industry up to date and provide a better platform for the future, there must be more cooperation between the parties.  The 2009 Code of Practice resulted from a series of round table meetings and consultations organised by the BIS. 

Following the consultation now being undertaken, it is vital that the hospitality industry more widely participates  in the outcome - and this means not just restaurants and bars, but hotels, conference and events organisers and any businesses that provide hospitality services and are involved in these transactions.

Recent articles on the subject that go into more details about some of the issues can be accessed here:  Tip of the Iceberg  The Iceberg is Coming


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