Written by Rachel Cooke
Published on July 16, 2021
Tronc protests

It is no secret that the Government has fallen silent on Troncs since they were last mentioned in the Queen’s Speech in 2019 as part of promised updates to the Good Work Plan. It has been hoped that the Government would take action to prevent unethical practices from employers and support workers in the Hospitality industry, but so far nothing has been done.

Protestors gather around the Department of Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy in London

On the 15th July 2021 at midday hospitality workers came together to protest this inaction in hopes of getting the legislation moving. It was promised in 2019 that legislation would be introduced to protect workers and prevent their employers from profiting off tips, service charges and gratuities but the lack of action has allowed unethical employers to continue to profit through the use of administration charges.

Just down the road from the protest, it has been discovered that a local Pizza Express restaurant has been deducting administration costs from troncs to the value of 30% and in some instances even 50%. After the initial protests, Unite union members gathered outside the restaurant to continue bringing attention to the unfair practices.

Evidence presented to the Low Pay Commission

This comes after Unite presented evidence to the Low Pay Commission showing that the lack of legislation protecting workers in addition to the global pandemic has had a severe impact on the earnings of workers.

They have also written to the Secretary of State for Business Kwasi Kwarteng raising their concerns regarding the way that troncs are currently being allocated and distributed. This combined with the impact of the pandemic and more and more cashless payments has negated the recent adjustments to National Living Wage and National Minimum Wage rates.

Unite’s Officer for Hospitality Dave Turnbull commented “A successful hospitality sector is essential for the recovery of the UK economy, but its return to health will be stifled by severe staff shortages until workers are paid fairly and properly.

The Conservative government has continued to promise to introduce fair tips legislation and has equally failed to deliver on its warm words. Hospitality workers can't wait for promises on the never-never, they need action on tips now.

When legislation is finally introduced it is essential that it is free of loopholes and action is taken to curtail the unethical use of troncs, which unscrupulous employers use to divert tips away from waiting staff."

They have also raised issues with HMRC E24 guidance on tips and troncs, which they argue is not appropriate.

A lot of talk and not a lot of action from the Government so far

Whilst it seems the Government have promised to make changes to come down on employers that are abusing troncs, there has been a lot of talk and no action so far.

After a period of radio silence, it was MP Dean Russell that brought forward his own Private Member’s Bill to bring into law 100% of tips going to staff. There will be a second reading on 10th September.

Whilst this is promising, it is too early to tell whether this could be the start of action finally taking place. There has been talk of troncs even five years ago when the acting Business Secretary at the time Sajid Javid lead a consultation into tips, service charges and gratuities. Then Prime Minister Theresa May had even promised a ban on employers making any deductions at the “earliest opportunity” which will still await five years on.

Troncs were not mentioned in the most recent Queen’s speech either, however in a statement the Government did confirm that the Employment Bill will be brought forward which will address tipping when “the time is right”.

Is your tronc scheme fair and efficient?

Troncs can be a complicated subject, and if you are sure if your tronc scheme is running effectively to the benefit of your employees you can contact us for advice and support.