Last weekend it was reported that the US-themed restaurant chain was giving 40% of credit card tips to back-of-house staff.
A spokesperson for Unite said the move was “ethically dubious”, and that the extra cash would be used to help the chain avoid giving more experienced back-of-house staff a pay rise.
It has also been insinuated in some of the press coverage that TGI Friday's was using the tips to 'top-up' wages above the National Living Wage. The practice is prohibited in Unite's Fair Hospitality Charter, which TGI Friday's is signed up to.
But a spokesperson for TGI Friday’s said this was not the case.
“All team members currently receive pay above the national living wage. From 1 April, all team members – whether in the kitchen or bar, waiters or hosts – will receive a pay increase of 33p per hour as part of the increase to the National Living Wage. The change in allocation of tips has nothing whatsoever to do with pay increases. Wage policy is set by the company and the tipping policy is set by the Troncmaster.”
“As always, team members will keep 100% of tips received at Fridays, but from 19 February, 40% of tips received on card will go to the kitchen teams. This has been done in the interest of fairness, and to ensure that all team members who have helped earn the tips receive a share of them. The changes were made after discussions with a large segment of team members and research into industry norms. Servers will continue to keep 100% of the cash tips they are given.”
Unite says the move has angered both waiting staff, who will lose out on some of their card tips, as well as kitchen staff, who “want to be given a wage increase on 1 April as opposed to a cut of the card tips”.
“The worry of chefs in particular, is that they should have a proper wage that isn’t subsidised by tips and they should have a pay rise in line with their skills. But in fact what they are getting is a pay freeze.” says Dave Turnbull, hospitality union Unite’s regional officer.
According to a note sent to staff, the change in the way credit tips are distributed is due to unfilled kitchen posts and high staff turnover of chefs due to “pay perception and rewards offered by our direct competitors”.
TGI Friday’s spokesperson told BigHospitality that the change is coming as a result of discussions with a “large segment of team members”, as well as “research into industry norms.”
TGI Fridays is half way through plans to overhaul its menu to escape the drop in sales affecting the casual dining industry. The brand plans to overhaul its entire menu by the end of 2018. Currently, the chain has revamped 50% of its menu, with 30% new menu items and 20% improved options.