The Low Pay Commission has advised the Government not to legislate to ensure workers in the service industry have a legal right to their tips.
In a report on the issue to Employment Affairs and Social Protection Minister Regina Doherty, the commission acknowledges the good intent of a bill introduced by Sinn Féin Senator Paul Gavan to make it illegal for employers to take their employees’ tips, but says such a law would be unworkable.
The commission, in its report published on Thursday, concedes that the ownership of tips is not addressed anywhere in Irish legislation and that there is “nothing to stop an employer from taking ownership of employee tips”.
The bill would require employers to display their tipping policy for customers. “While the intention of the bill is undoubtedly honourable, the commission does not feel that introducing legislation which cannot be applied and enforced effectively is a worthwhile endeavour,” says the report.
Ms Doherty said the issues regarding tips were “incredibly complex” and there were no easy answers. Yet answers have been found elsewhere. In the US, the rule is that tips belong to employees, not to the employer. The UK is also considering the introduction of a similar law.
The Low Pay Commission acknowledges that Senator Gavan’s bill has honourable intent. That means the Government should do the honourable thing and support it.