Popular restaurant chain Zizzi has been slammed by leading MPs after employees claimed that the firm charges waiters if the company is ‘robbed’ or they make a mistake.
Deputy Leader of the Labour Party, Tom Watson has launched an online petition calling on the UK restaurant to “stop fining their waiters when customers ‘dine and dash’.”
On his online petition, addressed to Steve Holmes, Zizzi’s CEO, Watson writes; “Restaurant chain Zizzi is making waiters foot the bill if customers "dine and dash" or for other financial "mistakes". The money is usually taken out of staff tips.
“This is totally unacceptable. We must not allow this abuse of workers, which we commonly see in the gig economy, to penetrate into the mainstream.”
Watson’s petition comes after BuzzFeed News reported that Zizzi has a policy that essentially makes waiters financially responsible for their table. This means managers can force waiters to foot the bill if customers leave without paying.
BuzzFeed claim to have seen a Zizzi’s waiting contract which says: "You hereby authorise the Company to deduct from your pay any sums which you may at any time owe to the company. These include, without limitations, cash shortages, from waiter banking...or any costs owed by you to the Company for any losses in the restaurant that you are accountable for."
Some waiters say they had paid in excess of £100 for such errors.
Speaking to BuzzFeed, one former staff member said: "We paid it there and then, usually from our cash tips if we had them. If we didn't have enough, we definitely used our own money. [It was] practically impossible in such a busy environment to be constantly watching everyone. It was a lot of money and I was upset since it felt really unjust."
“Given the size of the company, it always seemed like a real slap in the face."
Zizzi is part of the Azzurri Group which has an annual turnover of £262.8million.
In the UK, it is legal for an employer to deduct up to 10% pay from a staff member to make up for shortfalls.
Unions told BuzzFeed News they believed the practice was unacceptable. Frances O'Grady, General Secretary at the Trades Union Congress, said: "Zizzi are trying to shift a standard business risk on to the backs of already low-paid workers. If a customer dines and dashes, that’s not the fault of the waiter, and they shouldn’t be forced to pay up."