Richard Bainbridge, Jeremy Lee on the Employment Bill: Whether service charge or tips, all team members need to receive their fair share

The  Staff Canteen

Richard Bainbridge and Jeremy Lee Discuss their opinions on the often misunderstood restaurant service charge

In the most recent (bonus) episode of Grilled by The Staff Canteen, our editor, Cara Houchen, and co-host Richard Bainbridge were joined by none other than Jeremy Lee, chef proprietor at Quo Vadis in London.

Among a plethora of subjects, they discussed the recent announcement that hospitality businesses will not be legally obliged to share tips with their teams.

With the recent anouncement that the UK government is expected to shelve its employment bill 'for the foreseeable future,' many have been left wondering what this means for the restaurant business.

Designed to ensure the UK's two million hospitality workers were guaranteed a fair share of tips and discretionary service charge, the bill would have also laid out a statutory code of practice for how tips should be distributed, requiring a level of transparency from the employer's perspective as to how they were calculated.

To tip or not to tip

The decision to scrap the legislation raised eyebrows within the industry, as many employees don't trust that they are receiving their fair share of tips. A statment Jeremy echoed.

Despite this, it is not universal for restaurants to add a service charge to their menus: Simon Martin, the chef-owner of Manchester's only Michelin-starred restaurant, Mana, does exactly this removing the service charge from his restaurant entirely in 2021, whilst simultaneously rising his team's wages to make up the difference. His argument is that tipping is "an outdated practice with its roots in slavery."

In a similar vein, being outside of London, Richard noticed that many of his guests find the very idea of service charge objectionable. "They notice it, they try to take it off the bill and all the rest of it, and I find they moan about it quite a lot – with the idea of having it," he said.

He found it impossible to have a service charge without complains and, by not adding it to the bill, found that they could take a stance he enjoyed - a 'If you feel you’ve had a great time and you’ve enjoyed your whole experience, then tip what you want’ approach.

“We find a lot of the time it ends up being more than 12.5 percent on people’s bills anyway, then we have an even distribute between all the team who are working together.”

The Big Machine behind a meal

Both Jeremy and Richard agreed that whether or not you do a service charge it should be equitably spread throughout the whole team. Something that they mentioned isn't universally accepted, or understood by the customer.

Jeremy said: “There’s a big machine to this. I think there’s always been a weird/strange anomaly of this 12 and a half percent service charge going to the person who’s doing the table, when there’s an enormous great machine that facilitates that person and indeed for the people sat at the table.”

Richard agreed and said: “A restaurant isn’t that one person serving your table – there’s a whole army of people: from the kitchen porters to the cleaners, to the people in the offices, to the chefs, all of that coming together. I think it’s fair game that they all benefit from somebody wanting to give a nod to the restaurant.”

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The  Staff Canteen

The Staff Canteen

Editor 23rd May 2022

Richard Bainbridge, Jeremy Lee on the Employment Bill: Whether service charge or tips, all team members need to receive their fair share