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Page last updated at 13:02 GMT, Thursday, 31 July 2008 14:02 UK
'Sneaky' tipping tactics to be banned
By Matt Cole
Newsbeat reporter, Worthing

Hayley the waitress
Hayley's old employer used tips to top up her low wage
There's clattering of cups and a strong smell of brewing coffee in Madison's Cafe as the staff get ready for a busy lunchtime.

A display case of fine cakes and bagels stuffed with indulgent egg, cheese and bacon fillings sit next to the till.

Alongside that is a tips bowl, the bottom of which has a healthy covering of coins.

"The tips that are left here by our customers go into this little bowl and once a month they're distributed evenly between the staff," said cafe manager Ronnie Mayes.

"My partner and myself don't take any of it. None of it goes into the till."

Ronnie's partner Fiona Anderson chipped in with a cheeky admission however: "I occasionally take out my bus fare if I'm desperate and haven't got any change - but otherwise the staff do get all the tips."

That's good news for his 16-year-old waitress Haley.

She's busy ferrying sandwiches and lattes between tables offering service which she hopes will earn a tip or two: "It's nice to get a tip - makes you feel like you're doing a good job.

"It shows how much the customers respect you. It proves that if they like you they'll leave a good tip."

Wages top up

Hayley used to work in another restaurant where things weren't so good.

She was paid less than the hourly national minimum wage and had to use her tips to make up the difference.

You got low money and then the tips made it up to what you got in the end
Hayley, waitress

She said: "You got low money and then the tips made it up to what you got in the end.

"It encouraged you to work harder because you needed the money - but it wasn't really good because you want wages.

"I was annoyed, because I try my hardest anyway and I wanted to do a good job... but you can't always rely on customers giving you a tip."

In future this could be prevented from happening.

The government says from next year it wants to ban restaurants from paying low wages and using tips to reach the minimum wage.

Employer's view

Cafe manager Ronnie believes that's a good thing for the industry.

Ronnie Mayes
Ronnie says it's unfair for bosses to keep their employees' tips

He said: "Customers come into a cafe or restaurant intending to leave that tip to go specifically to waiter or waitress that's given them good service.

"So to me it seems a bit dishonest for the company to put it back into the till. Apart from the monetary value I think it shows their service has been appreciated by the customer.

"I think that's why I leave tips. If someone's served me well and been polite and pleasant and smiley, I like to leave a tip in gratitude for that.

"So I think if you've left it for that reason, and then it's taken away by the bosses that doesn't seem very fair.

"Not only does the monetary value help - because mostly waiters and waitresses aren't on a particularly high wage, but I think i also it shows signs of an appreciation of their service, and I think that's important to them."

Honest approach

Ministers also say they want all tips to be passed on to the people that earned them.

They want cafes and restaurants to be honest to customers about what happens to any gratuities they leave.

Victoria Kennedy
Victoria thinks that tips should not be used to top up low wages

They hope that bosses will be too ashamed to keep pocketing table tips if they have to admit what they're doing.

This won't be compulsory but the government says its time for transparency.

At a table outside Madison's Cafe, customer Victoria Kennedy is taking a few moments away from her children with a coffee.

She's supporting calls to give tips to the staff: "You would expect the tips to go to the people that serve you obviously, but perhaps also to the staff that don't get the chance to be front line - but not the bosses.

"I think people should get a minimum wage and then tips should be an extra on top.

"If you work hard and give good service you should be tipped for it - but I don't think you should top up wages with that."

Price rises

If restaurants do start passing tips on to those that earn them there is a risk that bosses will put up prices to offset any dip they might have in earnings.

I leave at least ten or 15%. That seems about fair!
That wouldn't bother Victoria: "I think it would be okay... so long as the person is giving you good service."

Another latte drinker, Claire, is out with her newborn baby.

She agrees: "As long as I knew staff were earning a decent wage and that some of the extra cost of the meal was going to the increased wage of the staff its not a problem."

Which just leaves the question of how much to tip?

Claire says: "I leave at least ten or 15%. That seems about fair!"

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