On the 2nd of May Sajid Javid and the Department of Business, Innovation & Skills released their long-awaited response to last autumn’s Call for Evidence on tipping practices, which was itself a response to media attention generated last summer and Unite’s campaign against what they perceive as “unfair practices” in the sector.
Despite headlines suggesting an end to tipping, a ban on service charge or businesses retaining funds, what was actually announced was a further review and consultation of what steps the Government should take. No new legislation has been enacted or even proposed yet. What is apparent is that ministers are still unsure of exactly what “the problem” is, whether legislation is necessary, and how far any potential legislation should go…
The key problem is that, although there have been numerous opinions stated in the press, little has been put forward through the consultation from which government will draw its conclusions. The government is looking for a solution which is clear, transparent, simple to implement and satisfies restaurant goers, staff and businesses alike. In fact, the data from which a course of action will be chosen is thin on the ground and made up of a collection of disparate opinions to reflect on rather than any clear proposals. We are concerned that this will lead to ill informed decisions causing lasting damage to our much-loved hospitality industry.
Alex Wrethman spoke live on Sky News and ITV News on the 2nd of May aiming to bring some public attention to the issues surrounding this complex topic but, as ever, sound bites do little to resolve matters. It has become even more obvious following this high profile coverage that even those who have important views on this key topic, and may wish to voice their opinion or concerns, do not find themselves drawn to the government consultation process.
Alex subsequently appeared on the panel at the Alliance of Independent Restaurants on the 4th of May to discuss this topic with industry peers. Peter Davies, also on the panel, pointed out that only 13 employers had responded to the initial government consultation. It is perhaps unsurprising, therefore, that the consultation response does not seem to address the concerns, fears and consequences for the hospitality industry. Peter and Alex both feel that there is a lack of action, that we are at risk of sleepwalking into bad legislation, and that someone needs to seize the initiative before the end of the new consultation period on the 27th of June 2016.