Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Seven More Chains Named in Tipping Row; Service Charges Do Not Go Directly to Waiting Staff at Polpo and Others

Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Seven More Chains Named in Tipping Row; Service Charges Do Not Go Directly to Waiting Staff at Polpo and Others

Article excerpt

Byline: Simon Neville

SEVEN London restaurant chains where service charges are not handed directly to waiting staff to boost their salaries are today named by the Standard.

Masala Zone, Draft House, Polpo, CAU, Fortnum & Mason, Banana Tree and Mango Tree, which have almost 50 branches between them, all add 12.5 per cent to the bill. But that money is not given to staff serving customers on top of their wages, according to workers.

The restaurants say the money is evenly distributed to all restaurant staff through a "tronc" system, where tips and service charges are collected in a central pool before being handed out.

But this can also include better-paid managers and means during the busiest periods waiting staff may not see their take-home pay rise accordingly.

Business Secretary Sajid Javid launched a review after the practice was exposed at Cote and Bill's and dozens of waiting staff have now contacted the Standard.

A former worker at Polpo, which runs nine tapas-style restaurants, said: "Every time I explained how the system worked diners were horrified and immediately left money in cash."

Polpo said it welcomed Mr Javid's review of the "confusing and disparate area of restaurant service charge", adding: "If a better scheme is proposed we will support and implement it."

CAU, which has three sites, has a similar policy. A member of staff said: "I do not agree with that method because they are paying part of our salary with our own tips." The company said: "The way the service charge is distributed depends on the individual's pay rate, seniority and job title. One hundred per cent of service charge is distributed. Any additional tips go directly to that member of staff."

A worker at Masala Zone, run by millionaire Ranjit Mathrani, said it "forced all employees to join the tronc scheme, which is set up in such a way that our basic pay was reduced". …

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