Ask the Question
What can I do?
If you’re a consumer, you can ask ‘Who gets the tip?’ if you don’t see a tipping policy somewhere that you want to leave a tip. It’s a simple question, and it’s easy to do.
If you work in a business which gets tips, ask what the tipping policy is and how you should explain it to customers if they ask. You should be told where the policy can be found by customers, whether cash and card tips are treated differently, whether there is an arrangement for pooling tips, and how tips are distributed.
How do I do it?
Look for a tipping policy if you’re planning to leave a tip. If you don’t see one, ask ‘Who gets the tip?’ You can tell us how you get on via our Facebook page if you like.
What does a tipping policy look like?
It’s a written statement and it should be displayed somewhere you can see it before deciding whether to leave a tip. It’s often printed on the menu in restaurants and cafes, or displayed on the wall in other businesses.
It should say what percentage of tips goes to the staff, if a percentage is kept by the business and if so, what for. It should also say if cash and card tips are treated differently (see ‘Cash vs card’ below – as this it where it can get a bit complicated).
Who do I ask?
If you’re in a café or restaurant, ask the person who serves you. Before you sign the slip or enter your pin or rummage for cash, just ask them ‘Who gets the tip?’.
If you’re in a casino, you could ask one of the waiting, table or licensed gaming staff the same question.
If you’re in a hotel, you might want to ask the porter, or perhaps the person who brings you room service.
It’s more common for 100% of the tip to go direct to staff in hairdressers and beauty salons, but you may still want to ask the question.
How should ‘Who gets the tip?’ be answered?
The person asked should be able to say whether the tip goes to the staff, and whether a proportion is kept by the business, and if so how much, and what for. The answer may be verbal, or in a written statement.
What if there’s no answer?
If the staff member doesn’t know the answer, just say thanks. If you decide not to leave a tip because it might not go to the person who served you, that’s up to you.
You could, if you wanted, tell the manager about the ‘Who gets the tip’ campaign. You could also tell them they can get more information about tipping policies at www.whogetsthetip.co.uk – it’s up to you and depends on what you feel comfortable with.
Or you could tell us about your experiences of asking ‘Who gets the tip?’ on our Facebook page.
Tell me about cash vs credit card tips
Legally speaking, tips left in cash belong to the employee (although their contract may contain terms and conditions outlining how this is distributed). Sometimes the person who serves you keeps all the cash tip, and sometimes cash tips are pooled and then shared out. Tips left through a card payment legally belong to the business.
In practice, tips made through a card payment often do go to the staff, with a deduction made by the business to cover the cost of processing the card payment. But everywhere’s different, which is why it’s important for business to openly display their tipping policy.
What about other deductions made from the tip?
When you ask ‘Who gets the tip?’ the answer should include the amount of any deduction from both cash and card tips, and what the deduction is for. Sometimes the business takes a percentage to cover the cost of handling tips.
It’s up to you whether you think the deduction is reasonable or not. The key point is that the business should be transparent so that you know where your money is going.
What’s the difference between tips, service charges, gratuities and cover charges?
This website uses ‘tips’ to mean all of the above, but there are some differences.
Tips and gratuities are uncalled for spontaneous payments offered by the customer either as cash tips or offered as part of a cheque, credit or debit card payment or detailed on a bill and added at the point of transaction. Tips and gratuities are entirely optional.
A service charge is an amount added to the customer’s bill before it is presented to the customer (typically between 10% to 12.5%) and is usually discretionary, i.e. payment is optional.
A cover charge is a mandatory or fixed amount, often per person, that pays for entertainment and other services (not necessarily waiting service in the case of restaurants). Cover charges are not widely used in the UK, but where they are used it should be made very clear.
What’s this other word I’ve seen – a ‘tronc’?
A ‘tronc’ is where tips are pooled and then shared out among staff. Its is managed by a staff member called a ‘troncmaster’.
Again, if any deductions are made before tips are shared out from the tronc, either the tipping policy or the person you ask should be able to tell you the amount and reason for any deductions.
What do businesses think about all this?
The Department for Business, Innovation and Skills developed a Code of Best Practice in collaboration with Trade Unions, consumer groups and industry. Many have fully endorsed the Code and are fully supportive of businesses being transparent about tipping policies with consumers and workers. The Code of Best Practice states that businesses should:
- Display information on their tips policy prominently, before the customer leaves a tip
- Be transparent to customers and workers about how their tips are distributed as well as the level and purpose of any deductions
- Ensure that workers understand the tips policy and know where to direct customers for additional information
The Code of Best Practice is voluntary and the Government will be holding an official review towards end of 2010. Businesses can find out more about the code at Business Link.
I’m a worker in a business where tipping is common – what do I need to know?
The key principle of the Code is transparency with customers AND workers. So businesses should be telling you as workers about their tipping policy, and ensuring you can confidently explain or show the tipping policy to customers. You can find out what the Code means for you at Business Link.
Is asking ‘Who gets the tip?’ really going to make a difference?
If lots of people start asking then we hope so!
Businesses do respond to feedback from their customers. So this campaign should encourage lots of places to make this small, but important, change and display their tipping policies as a matter of course.
So go on, ask ‘Who gets the tip?’. If would be great if you also share how you get on at our Facebook page.