Employment (Allocation of Tips) Bill - Second Reading

Part of the debate – in the House of Lords at 11:48 am on 3 March 2023.

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Photo of Lord Robathan Lord Robathan Conservative 11:48, 3 March 2023

My Lords, I apologise to Members present because I should have declared an interest at the beginning, although admittedly it is over half a century out of date. When I was at school, I did a bit of waiting, though not much, and I remember the joy that I had when someone left a £5 note—which was worth something in those days—on the table. My children, who are in their early 20s, have done a bit of waiting more recently. They got paid, of course, but they also got tips, and they were very happy with those.

I should warn my noble friend Lady Berridge and the noble Lord, Lord Mitchell, that there will most certainly be a great deal of resistance from our excellent waiting staff in the Peers’ Dining Room should they wish to take up their past careers in waiting, especially if the noble Lord can get as much tipping as he used to get in New York.

I thank my noble friend the Minister for signalling the Government’s continuing support for the Bill and for answering most of the questions.

I would like to refer to three points that were raised. First, the noble Lord, Lord Mitchell, raised the question of agency workers. We should be aware—I hope the code of practice will be—of being too prescriptive on how much an employer pays either his own staff or agency workers, because I do not think that is really up to us to determine.

Secondly, on credit cards, personally I have a rather ordinary little credit card. I did a bit of research and apparently the charges on that would be something over 1%. Of course, if you have a gold Amex card—I do not know whether anyone in this place does—I understand it goes as high as 3%. That is surely up to the person who has the gold card. All these credit card charges are already discounted by restaurants and other places. Those who already pay the whole service charge do not in general discount it and take money out for the credit card charges, which would probably be more complicated than it was worth.

Thirdly and finally, I agree with my noble friend Lord Bourne and the noble Lord, Lord Browne, that it is rather sad—I will put it no more strongly than that—how long it takes to get a very simple bit of legislation through Parliament.

I hope noble Lords on both sides can agree that this is an important, if small, piece of legislation which would ensure fairness and transparency for both workers and employers. This is an opportunity to increase consumer confidence, which we have all heard about, create a level playing field for businesses and help ensure that hard-working individuals—often, as has been pointed out, the lowest paid—get the money they have been given and deserve for their work.

Bill read a second time and committed to a Committee of the Whole House.