It looks like Jamie’s Italian, chef Jamie Oliver’s rapidly multiplying global restaurant chain, is in some hot water over tipping practices in its home base of England. Wait staff claim the tip-shares policy in place at the U.K.’s 42 locations is “exploitative” and has “left them out of pocket.” Apparently, 2 percent of the earnings go back to the house every night — money which is then redistributed to non-tipped staff, a pretty commonplace system industrywide. The beef is over how that percentage gets calculated: not on the tips servers earn, they claim, but rather on the night’s total tips (and therefore irrespective of their earnings individually).
The Guardian explains the trouble purportedly arising from this, especially in a place like England where gratuities aren’t typically terribly high:
This means that if waiting staff sell £1,000 of food and drinks in an evening, they have to pay £20 back from their credit card tips to the restaurant regardless of how much they have actually made in tips. Some shifts can bring in as little as £20 in tips, they have claimed.
A number of staff members have told managers that the new tipping system is unfair because it bears no relation to how much they actually earn in tips, and is run without staff input or transparency. On occasion, they claim, waiting staff have to “pay to work.”
A Jamie’s Italian rep disputed several of the allegations, saying, “under no circumstance” do waiters ever end up owing the tip pool more money than they received. She also added that Jamie’s Italian believes its servers are “rewarded exceptionally well,” and claimed the company is only aware of one complaint about the policy, which was lodged by servers who think back-of-house staff don’t “deserve” such a big cut of their tips.