Belfast Telegraph

Editor's Viewpoint: Restaurant staff face long wait for tips law

One aspect of the Queen's Speech is the Government's declared intention to ensure that restaurant waiting staff will receive all their tips, but unfortunately for workers here it transpires that they will not benefit from this development because it is a devolved matter. (stock photo)
One aspect of the Queen's Speech is the Government's declared intention to ensure that restaurant waiting staff will receive all their tips, but unfortunately for workers here it transpires that they will not benefit from this development because it is a devolved matter. (stock photo)

Editor's Viewpoint

One aspect of the Queen's Speech is the Government's declared intention to ensure that restaurant waiting staff will receive all their tips, but unfortunately for workers here it transpires that they will not benefit from this development because it is a devolved matter.

The whole question of tipping is complex. Many restaurants ask for tips as high as 12.5% as a matter of routine, and arguably fewer people query this compared to those who simply pay up without wanting to make a scene.

Generally there are several basic questions to answer - should you tip at all and, if so, how much? If the service is poor, should you withhold the tip, but if the service and the food are top-class, should you tip more than the going rate?

There are people who tip as a matter of routine, but there are others who regard this as a stealth charge whereby they are being asked to subsidise the employer to pay the staff a decent rate.

One thing which is not in dispute is the historically lower wages that are paid to many people working in the hospitality industry.

This seems grossly unfair because of the gruelling work they do, often with long and anti-social hours.

It is also a role which requires considerable diplomacy and skill in handling people and may involve diners who are not particularly sober.

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This work can also involve dealing with the kind of individuals who never seem happy, no matter what is put on their plate - even if they have ordered it in the first place.

Whatever the dilemma we feel about tipping or not tipping, the new initiative, if it ever becomes law elsewhere, will not apply here in the foreseeable future because it is a matter for the Northern Ireland Assembly, which as everyone knows has not been sitting for more than 1,000 days.

This gives us much food for thought about the efficiency of our political system.

At a time when most politicians have more on their plate than they can handle, our politicians are still being paid handsomely without doing the job they were elected to do.

In real terms, while the letter of the new law will not apply here, it seems that we should apply the spirit of the law and give a tip where it is deserved for good food and attention.

However, we should perhaps think twice if the service is bad and the food is even worse.

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