The government has announced plans to ensure staff receive tips left by customers in bars and restaurants.

The business secretary Sajid Javid proposed the move after a campaign by the union Unite complained some companies were counting tips as part of a worker's pay.

Unite has welcomed the move, which came after a call for evidence received nearly 200 responses with broad agreement that current practices were not clear for workers or consumers.

This is fantastic news. It has taken us eight months to get this report to conclude but at long last it has come down on the side of the waiting staff. It is a massive victory for all those waiting staff who have worked tirelessly to expose sharp practices in the hospitality industry. All they want is what any worker wants - to take home what they have earned, no corners cut. But it will need the support of law to make this happen - it is patently obvious that too many employers do not respect the spirit or word of the voluntary code.

Dave Turnbull, Unite's officer for the hospitality sector

The Government announced a consultation on moves to ensure additional payments for service should be voluntary to the consumer and received in full by workers.

Plans include:

  • updating the current voluntary code of practice and putting it on a statutory footing to increase employer compliance

  • increasing transparency for consumers to make it clearer that tips are discretionary

  • preventing or limiting any employer deduction from tips except for those required under tax law

Business Secretary Sajid Javid said: "I'm setting out our proposals to make tipping fairer, clamping down on unfair practices and securing a better deal for the millions of workers in the service industry. We will look closely at all the options, including legislation if necessary."