Waiter with coffee
Unions have welcomed Government plans to ensure businesses do not take the tips intended for staffReuters

Unions have welcomed Government plans to ensure staff get all the tips that customers leave. It follows an eight-month investigation into the abuse of tipping and Business Secretary Sajid Javid will look at whether government intervention is needed to strengthen the voluntary code of practice run by the restaurant industry.

It wants to make clearer to customers that tips were voluntary and would be received in full by workers except for those required under tax law. The union Unite has been campaigning for Government action after complaining that some companies were counting tips as part of a worker's pay.

A row broke out in 2015 when it emerged that restaurants such as Cafe Rouge, Prezzo and Strada would charge a 10% administration fee, with Pizza Express, ASK Italian and Zizzi charing 8% for tips. More recently, the Belgian coffee shop chain le Pain Quotidien was criticised for stopping paid breaks for staff ahead of the government's national living wage as well as failing to pass on all staff tips.

Javid said he was disappointed by the tipping practices of some of well-known chains and that "This has to change". A report was commissioned in August 2015 which saw 200 responses.

"I'm setting out our proposals to make tipping fairer, clamping down on unfair practices and securing a better deal for the millions of workers in the service industry. We will look closely at all the options, including legislation if necessary," he said.

Dave Turnbull, Unite's officer for the hospitality sector said that the problem has been that tips paid on a credit card and service charges are deemed the property of the employer.

"Until staff are recognised as the lawful owners of their hard-earned tips with complete control over how they are shared out, rogue employers will continue to cream off staff tips. But it will need the support of law to make this happen - it is patently obvious that too many employers do not respect the spirit or word of the voluntary code."