Employment (Allocation of Tips) Bill - Second Reading

Part of the debate – in the House of Lords at 11:06 am on 3 March 2023.

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Photo of Baroness Berridge Baroness Berridge Conservative 11:06, 3 March 2023

My Lords, I too thank my noble friend Lord Robathan for introducing this small but important Bill, especially as, like many noble Lords, I have been a receiver of tips, not only a giver. Although the loophole has been closed so that tips cannot be relied on by employers not paying the national minimum wage, tips are often given to those on that lowest lawful wage and can be a vital part of overall wages. Back in the day, it was so encouraging on a long shift in the local gastropub to open the drawer and see a number of paper notes along with the coins in the tips bowl. It really was an incentive for the rest of the shift and an extra bonus when saving for university.

It is only right to have a distribution policy that is fair and for employees, not the employer. It is often a personal payment, such as by a lone woman travelling home at night in a cab or Uber, when the driver gets you home safely and you know that they have waited until you are safely inside the building before driving off. These extra kindnesses really matter and should be rewarded personally.

I welcome, in Clause 6, that there should be a written policy to enable claims to be taken to the employment tribunal, giving employees the requisite information, but it would be good if that policy were simple enough to be on display for customers. I think Clause 6 limits it only to workers. How tips are distributed can affect whether a customer wants to give a tip. It can also change the way that tips are given. Like my noble friend Lord Robathan, I have often asked waiting staff and given cash if I am informed that they will not get a tip given by a card payment.

The Bill has also intrigued me. Although I am aware that my noble friend cannot answer the following question directly, I ask: what happens to gratuities added to bills paid by card in the dining rooms or guest rooms in Parliament? I hope that he will pass that question to the relevant authorities so that noble Lords will know the answer.

I agree with the noble Lord, Lord Browne, that it is sad to note the many commitments that have been made on this matter. I particularly cite October 2018, when the Conservative Party made a commitment to bring this into law, but it has taken four and a half years since then to legislate. It is also sad to note that it is necessary to use the law to achieve what should be normal employer behaviour. As my noble friend said, what is there not to like? Many or most employers, apparently including Uber, pass on tips paid electronically, but it is not always the case.

Sadly, the compensation orders against rogue employers, in Clause 8, might not be enough. I hope that the media will keep a watchful eye, as it is really only their revelations, with the transparency they give and the shame attended to them, that bring about the best sanctions. I anticipate that we will see some class actions brought in response to enable employees to have their requisite compensation orders and get their money back. I welcome the Bill and hope that it has a swift passage through Parliament.