Workers Say UK Restaurant Chain Keeps Their Tips, Makes Them Lie To Customers About It

When you’re eating at a restaurant and they impose a “service charge,” where do you assume that money goes? While laws regarding the pay of tipped workers are different in the United Kingdom than here, they do have the custom of tipping. Except at the chain restaurant Côte, which reportedly imposes an optional service charge which isn’t distributed directly to waitstaff.

What do they do with the money? The company says that the 12% charge is shared by all workers, whose pay starts at about £7.50 ($11.77). “At Cote the optional service charge is used to increase the pay of all restaurant level staff above what would typically be seen as market standard,” the company explained in a statement in response to the Evening Standard’s investigation. “This applies to all restaurant level staff, as good service is a team effort from the person serving the food to the person cooking the food or cleaning the kitchen.”

However, the service charge seems to be “shared” only in a holistic sense: workers receive their hourly rate and not a proportion of the service charges collected during their shifts. The restaurant claims that workers have the choice of keeping their tips or pooling them, but one server told the Evening Standard that they were forced to hand over cash tips, too, and didn’t receive a direct share of the money in the pool.

“We are told by management that we don’t get to keep the service charge because we get paid more than the minimum wage, so we should be grateful,” one server told the Evening Standard, “but most of us would prefer earning the minimum wage and taking home our tips for the hard work we do.”

Côte is a chain, with 72 restaurants across the country, 30 of which are in London. While the company pays £7.50-£8 per hour, a living wage in London is £9.15.

Exposed: how Côte staff miss out as entire service charge goes to company [Evening Standard]

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