Employment (Allocation of Tips) Bill

(Limited Text - Ministerial Extracts only)

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3rd reading
Friday 20th January 2023

(1 year, 3 months ago)

Commons Chamber
Employment (Allocation of Tips) Act 2023 View all Employment (Allocation of Tips) Act 2023 Debates Read Hansard Text Watch Debate
Kevin Hollinrake Portrait The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (Kevin Hollinrake)
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First, like the shadow Minister, let me declare my interest. I have two young daughters who work in the hospitality sector and who may benefit from this legislation. Happily, I am pleased to say that the Bill will also benefit around 1 million other people to the tune of £200 million per annum.

I thank my hon. Friend the Member for Ynys Môn (Virginia Crosbie)—I hope I have pronounced her constituency correctly because we have had some problems with pronunciation this morning—for her very hard work in bringing the Bill forward to Third Reading. The Bill is about fairness, transparency and, again, our efforts to make this society a fairer one. I am pleased that she has taken on the sponsorship of the Bill. Obviously, I thank the previous sponsor, my hon. Friend the Member for Watford (Dean Russell), for his work on such an important piece of legislation and for his campaigning on this issue. This is not just about his work in taking the Bill forward, because he has been amazing in campaigning on this. I thank my predecessors —not just him, but my hon. Friends the Members for Sutton and Cheam (Paul Scully) and for Loughborough (Jane Hunt).

It has been brilliant to hear the support in the House for these measures, and I will briefly reiterate why the Government are supporting the Bill. A few years ago, stories were highlighted in the news about bosses wrongfully pocketing tips intended for their workers. Both the Government and the public were appalled by that; money left by customers who wanted to recognise the hard work and excellence of staff was in some cases simply treated as part of the revenue of the business. That is why my Department took action to understand the scale of the problem and launched consultations, as has been mentioned. We were then able to publish a full impact assessment to support the Bill. The Government believe that tips should go to the staff who earn them, rather than the business, and that businesses that withhold tips from staff are wrongfully benefiting from money intended for hard-working staff.

The Bill prevent therefore employers from making deductions when distributing tips, apart from those required or permitted by existing legislation, such as under tax law. That will ensure that all money left by customers is passed to workers in full, as intended. The Bill also establishes a requirement to allocate tips fairly between workers at a place of business. That protects vulnerable workers and prevents exploitation. As we have mentioned, a voluntary code of practice on tipping was published in 2009. Our evidence shows that voluntary guidance alone was not enough to stamp out bad practice. Therefore, this Bill goes a step further and requires employers to give consideration to a statutory code of practice when considering how tips should be distributed. The code will continue to be developed by the Government, in partnership with key stakeholders, and will be subject to a full consultation period before the final version is brought to this House for approval.

Let me address some specific points made by hon. Members in this debate. The hon. Member for Reading East (Matt Rodda) talked about the benefits to lower-income workers and to towns with lots of hospitality workers, such as Reading, and indeed places in Thirsk and Malton and many other constituencies represented here today. My hon. Friend the Member for Watford talked about snollygosters. I do not know whether that piece from Quentin Letts referenced my hon. Friend personally, but being mentioned in one of his articles is always a badge of honour, regardless of whether the comments are derogatory. My hon. Friend also said that this measure is about fairness and clarity, and the simple question when one is handing over a tip: “Do you get this?” He said this should not be about topping up salaries. I say that it should be about driving up service, as these tips are paid to people who do a good job. Let me answer the question put by my hon. Friend the Member for North East Bedfordshire (Richard Fuller) on my tipping policy shortly.

There are some burdens on businesses as a result of this measure, particularly on record keeping. We should bear that in mind when we legislate, but, on balance, I think this Bill is fair. My hon. Friend the Member for Cheadle (Mary Robinson) talked about fairness and about how most employers do the right thing but some do not. She also talked about the confusion regarding making cash or card payments, and what happens to such payments. This is not just about hospitality, as this applies to other industries, such as the beauty industry. I should point out that this Bill does not cover every sector; requirements in here about record keeping and the like, and the passing on of tips, apply only to businesses that receive tips on a more than exceptional or occasional basis. So this does not cover every instance; it applies just where tips are routinely paid.

My hon. Friend the Member for Wantage (David Johnston) talked about not just hospitality, but the key element of access to cash, on which the Government are undertaking another stream of work.

My hon. Friend the Member for North Devon (Selaine Saxby) talked about the fantastic hospitality venues that are essential to the economy in her area—as, indeed, they are to the economy in mine. She is a huge advocate for business. Many of us on the Government side of the House are for business because we are from business. I know that she is, and I welcome that.

My hon. Friend the Member for Sedgefield (Paul Howell) talked about his local hospitality venues. I have visited a number of them, not least Sedgefield racecourse on occasion, which is always a treat. He talked about how this change will be overseen and gave the example of sole traders. This legislation will be employment law and will apply only to people who are employees. The code of practice will go into that in more detail.

My hon. Friend the Member for Clwyd South (Simon Baynes) was born and bred in the hospitality sector and so speaks with real authority. He used the words that I probably mention more than any other in my role as Minister for business: “fair” and “level playing field”. That is absolutely right, and that is what we seek to achieve. He also talked about the representations from Michael Kill from the Night Time Industries Association and how this change is important to attract workers into the sector, and about the great work of Kate Nicholls for the hospitality sector.

My hon. Friend the Member for Leigh (James Grundy) talked about this being a token of thanks. That is absolutely right, because that is what drives service.

My hon. Friend the Member for North East Bedfordshire, as always, challenged us in a number of areas. He mentioned the number of consultations we have held, and basically told us to get on with it. That is what we are doing today, of course: getting this legislation through and putting it into effect as quickly as possible. He talked about whether employment tribunals will have the capacity to deal with these issues. Work is under way across Government to expand capacity within employment tribunals. He talked about cash and cards, and what goes to whom. As he said, cash is by right the property of the employee, unless the employment contract says that it is not. The Bill will clarify that, in any circumstance, whether there is a service charge or not—that is also covered—this money will go to the employees. That is a critical part of this legislation.

Richard Fuller Portrait Richard Fuller
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It would be helpful if the Minister confirmed that, as of this Bill passing, when people see a service charge on a bill, they can say that it is covered, that it counts as a tip and that it will go to the employees rather than to other uses within the firm.

Kevin Hollinrake Portrait Kevin Hollinrake
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That is correct.

My hon. Friend also talked about my personal tipping. Do I tip? Yes. By standard, if there is no service charge, I would usually tip 10%, or sometimes more, based on performance. Sometimes I will tip nothing, if I do not feel that the service has been at that level. Do I tip if I do not pay for the meal? I normally pay for the meal as well actually, but I have offered to on occasion. I think that covers all his questions, but if he has any more, we can deal with them by separate means.

To respond to the shadow Minister, I again refer to my earlier comments about an employment Bill. The key thing is that we are getting on with key legislation that we think is important. It is not just this legislation; there are other pieces of legislation addressing flexible working, carer’s leave and other issues. She talked about enforcement, which is hugely important. Legislation without implementation is pointless. One of the most effective parts of our regulatory system in the UK, in my view, is employment tribunals. There is no pan-employment regulator in the UK, which, when we think about it, is quite a surprise—there are some in some sectors. There are 30 million people employed in this country, and employment tribunals do a fantastic job, at a fraction of the cost of other regulators. It is ex-post regulation, and I think a more effective means of doing that is through employment tribunals, which are principally a mechanism for enforcement.

The hon. Member talked about zero-hours contracts. A very small proportion of people in this country are on zero-hours contracts—2% to 3%. Many of them are on a zero-hours contract for good reasons and want to be on one, but she raised an important point. This is something we are looking at and determined to tackle. There are some abuses of the system, and we are keen to bring forward new regulations to make sure we tackle that area.

In conclusion, bringing forward the new rules will protect more than 2 million workers from bad bosses and give them an avenue to seek remedies. Businesses will be assured they are not being undercut by companies where bosses keep tips for themselves and consumers will have increased confidence that their tips go to the workers they are intended for. The new rules are backed by Government evidence and analysis. The Government are therefore pleased to reiterate their support for this private Member’s Bill. It has been wonderful to see the support for it in the House during today’s debate.

If I may, I would like to list the civil servants involved, and there are a number of them: Flora Strange, Lucy Allatt, Yasna Reynolds, Mary Smeeth, Tony Gordon, Joe Giles, Simi Bhamra, Bex Lowe, Richard Lewis, Abigail Bridger, Rachel Senior—I can see the Whip moving closer to me; oh no, it’s not, it is the next Minister. I will conclude very shortly!—Anthony Morris, Cora Sweet, Nadine Othman, Laura Matthews, Clara Thiel, Patrick Day and Harry Ravi. Finally, I very much look forward to working with my hon. Friend the Member for Ynys Môn and stakeholders to support the passage of these measures as the Bill moves to the House of Lords. I commend the Bill to the House.

Nigel Evans Portrait Mr Deputy Speaker (Mr Nigel Evans)
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If the Minister was ever to invite us all out for dinner one night, I think we would like to see his tipping style in action, wouldn’t we? Fascinating.