Sacha Lord calls for fair tipping policy amid warning of a post-Covid decline in gratuities

By James McAllister

- Last updated on GMT

Sacha Lord calls for fair tipping policy amid warning of a post-Covid decline in gratuities

Related tags: Sacha Lord, tipping, Service charge

Greater Manchester's night time economy advisor Sacha Lord is calling for an industry-wide fair tipping policy amid warnings of a post-Covid decline in customers leaving gratuities.

Backed by Unite, Lord is asking for greater transparency and the introduction of a code of conduct for hospitality operators. 

He warns a forecasted decline in gratuities post-Covid will have ‘massive financial consequences’ for the sector’s employees most of which are already on the minimum or living wage.

According to non-profit organisation One Fair Wage, average tips in US hospitality venues have declined following the Covid pandemic, a trend Lord predicts will inevitably follow in the UK.

The report found that 83% of hospitality workers had experienced a decline in tips following reopening, and 67% said tips have decreased as a result of having to enforce Covid-safety rules, such as social distancing and facemasks.

“Not only has Covid all but killed off cash, but the social distancing measures in place means less interaction between waiting staff and customers. It’s likely we’ll see a serious decline if not the end of tipping because of this," says Lord.

“Bar and restaurant staff typically earn minimum or less than living wage, and rely on tips to top up their salaries. Tips can mean the difference between walking home after work and getting an Uber, so there’s a clear safety aspect for operators to acknowledge if we do see a decline.”

The call is backed by Andy Burnham, Mayor of Greater Manchester, who has called for a new employment standard, which includes tipping, for the hospitality sector and night-time economy in his 2021 Manifesto.

“There’s less transparency as to where tips are going when paying by card," continues Lord.

"Many operators don’t pass on service charges to staff as a standard procedure, instead using them to top up the bottom line or subsidise chef salaries.

“As customers, we need to ask ‘do you get to keep this?’ every time we see the words Service Charge on our bills. If it’s not going to those providing the service, we need to question why we’re paying it.

“Hospitality needs to operate fairly and introduce standards across the board including fair distribution. It’s inevitable tipping will decline at the same rate as the US, and we need to look at ways of raising employee pay, such as price increases, so that tips become bonuses not essential substitutes for low salaries.”

Related topics: Business & Legislation

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