Miller & Carter | Steakhouse chain criticised for demanding payments from staff

Steakhouse chain criticised for demanding payments from staff

Miller & Carter, the steakhouse chain owned by Mitchells & Butlers, is facing a wave of criticism for a controversial staff payment policy that has come under scrutiny during the ongoing cost of living crisis.

The restaurant chain has been accused of demanding payments from waiting staff, amounting to up to two per cent of the sales they serve, causing a significant reduction in their income.

The disputed payments were originally intended to facilitate the sharing of tips with chefs and other back-of-house workers. However, the Unite union and waiting staff argue that this system has led to instances where earnings from tips and service charges fall below the amount owed to fellow workers. In a particularly alarming case, a worker claimed that the money they were asked to hand over pushed their pay below the minimum wage during a shift.

This new tip-sharing scheme has been rolled out in dozens of Miller & Carter outlets in the past month after staff participated in local votes to determine how service charges, cash, and card tips should be distributed.

While the policies vary slightly among restaurants, it is estimated that approximately one-third of the chain's 124 restaurants now employ a percentage of sales to determine tip sharing.

Some of Miller & Carter's 100-plus UK restaurants have capped the nightly pay-out, typically between £20 and £40, which is still more than the earnings from card tips, putting workers at risk of falling below the minimum wage.

Until this month, waiting staff at the restaurants typically shared tips with other employees by paying a fixed "plate fee" of less than £10 per shift, depending on the day and time of their shift, or by sharing a percentage of the service charge collected.

Staff argue that the shift to a percentage of sales could cost them hundreds of pounds in income each month, a significant concern amid rising household expenses.

In response to the controversy, Miller & Carter released a statement asserting that team members are not expected to contribute to tips from their own remuneration and are consistently paid at or above the national minimum wage.

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The company argued that there are 70 different variations in how tips are distributed across its establishments, with each team at each site democratically deciding on their tipping distribution policy.

The Unite union contends that these policies received support from staff votes because waiting staff were outvoted by kitchen staff and junior management who stood to benefit, resulting in the unfavourable payment scheme.

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