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The ONE Galway movement has broadly welcomed the Payment of Wages (Amendment) (Tips and gratuities) Bill 2022 which is currently being debated in the Houses of the Oireachtas (June 29th 2022)

Date Released: 29 June 2022

The campaign, led by ONE Galway since 2018, to return the ownership of tips and gratuities to workers as well as correcting the practice of employers retaining the service charge, might finally become a reality if this Bill ispassed in the Oireachtas.

The issue of the ownership of tips, gratuities, and the treatment of the service charge has long been contested by the Trade Union movement.  During the ONE Galway public campaign in 2018 and 2019 (which fully supported Senator Paul Gavan’s Tips Bill at the time), when they took to the streets to talk to workers and members of the public, they exposed the reality that many workers didn’t receive or know where their tip ended up, along with members of the public feeling misled that monies intended for staff, may not actually end up in their pockets but in those of their employer.

This new bill, originally debated in January 2022 and subsequently amended to return the service charge to workers is a significant step-change for the sector and will bring much-needed increases to hospitality workers.  Whilst there are other pressing issues within the sector, such as the predominance of low pay, precariousness, increasing involuntary part-time work, and exploitation, this will be a good result for workers.

“We, in the trade union movement, have been talking to and on behalf of workers for years about this issue, and whilst it isn’t the only priority, it is certainly one which we felt should have been rectified a long time ago”, said Clem Shevlin, ONE Galway spokesman.

“Since we last lobbied on it, the world has changed, and the Bill reflects some of those changes, such as the move to electronic means over cash, so the entitlement to electronically paid tips is very welcome.  We also believe the prominent display of an employer’s policy on tip redistribution provides greater transparency for customers and protection for workers”.

“However, what we consider to be the most significant change to the legislation, is the return of the service charge to workers.  We know that tips are often retained by employers which is grossly unfair, however, for many members of the public the concept of the service charge, implied in its name, was that this definitely goes to workers.  Therefore, where there is a service charge many members of the public don’t add in a tip for obvious reasons. Indeed, the service charge was introduced back in the 1950s for that reason, to improve the wages of staff in the sector.  But somehow that also made its way into the pockets of the employer to the degree that in public engagements, employers stated that the service charge was mandatory, their revenue and would remain in their possession”.

He added, “It was clear that the intense lobbying which took place over the last few years has paid off in a more informed debate on this issue with workers clearly at its heart.  At every opportunity provided, we spoke to politicians and policy makers to ensure that these issues were addressed to the benefit of workers.  However, there is a lot more to be done in this sector as we will outline today at the Joint Oireachtas Committee on Tourism & Hospitality.  Providing this entitlement to tips, gratuities, and the service charge is only the beginning of reform in this sector, and not the end.  Whilst the sector is experiencing significant labour shortages as we reopen from the pandemic, we believe this is no coincidence as it is not only a challenging sector to work in but one where the rewards are low.  We have highlighted, and will continue to highlight that if the sector wishes to encourage people to work for them, they will need to improve their stats in the form of better wages, conditions, and treatment”.

“What is needed now is a debate on how to improve opportunities, pay and career progression in the sector, how to implement a Living Wage and a return to the JLC system, the absence of which has created space to race to the bottom”.

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Note: ONE Galway is a collaborative movement of trade unions and student unions working together in the community for workers and their families in order to exert greater influence on policy and decision-making to achieve decent work, income, and living standards for all.

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