Understanding Our Thinking
We’ve invested a lot of time in thinking about our industry, and the flaws that have existed for the last thirty years or so. Service charge, in our opinion, was one of these flaws. There are many reasons why we’ve decided to do away with service charge, but these are calculated moves and something we are certain will become more commonplace throughout our industry.
The Problem With Service
Firstly, our staff have always had their tips processed through payroll. This means that HMRC are aware of these earnings, and record this as income. As a result, staff paid full tax on their tips. We believe this has been the fairest way to handle tips, as we see tax as a vital contribution to the running of our country’s public services. As we entered lockdown, the government chose to only allow staff to receive 80% furlough on their basic income. This did not include any additional earnings from tips. Despite all staff being taxed on these additional earnings for over a decade, the government felt justified in glossing over this fact. All of our staff were immediately worse off because part of their earnings came from service charge.
A Skilled Profession
Secondly, having staff be at the whims of whether a guest is having a good day or a bad day, and this fate deciding whether they can help make ends meet at the end of the month is draconian. We're proud to have a team of skilled individuals, who have chosen hospitality as their career. They have studied and trained on par with other well-paid professions, and they have done so, for the most part, at a fraction of the earnings. The imbalance of how many people view hospitality as a profession, against other lines of work, has been loud and apparent for too long. As a restaurant priding itself on its responsible behaviour, it would be conflicting for us to continue to float with the flotsam, and for these ethics to not be extended to our team. We will continually push for you to receive the best service possible. Our restaurant will only survive if you keep visiting, and you will only come back if you leave our beautiful space feeling wowed and inspired by what we do. We are confident in our ability to accomplish this.
How We Improve
We are readdressing this imbalance and advocating change. We are a proud living wage employer and all staff work a maximum of 46 hours a week; a reasonable standard for full-time, and vastly under what the majority of staff work in almost all other restaurants. In doing so, our team will be able to maintain the high standards we strive for. We will attract even more skilled individuals into The Ethicurean family and, as a result, we will continue to improve as a restaurant over the coming years. This will only serve to enhance and better your experience with us. This is our mission, and the encouragement we have received from industry and non-industry folk alike, reaffirms our determination in working for a better future.
What we are doing takes courage and it is expensive. It’s far cheaper to pay the minimum wage and rely on tips to balance the shortfall; how the industry has operated for aeons. But it’s not right and it’s not fair. We understand the risks, but this is about creating a fairer, more sustainable and enjoyable environment for both our guests and our team. We’re addressing these issues and striving to be an example for other employers to look to. We believe that by moving away from a broken industry model, to something much more forward-thinking and optimistic, we’re laying the foundations for a better industry to blossom in the coming decades. We welcome your support in us making these decisions.