Representatives of the Irish Hotels Federation and the Restaurants Association of Ireland yesterday told the Oireachtas Employment Affairs Committee that service charges
added to meal bills are not tips and could correctly be used to defray wage costs.
The IHF and RAI voiced support for a proposed Government bill that would explicitly outlaw the use by operators of tips to cover wage costs.
"One hospitality worker who does not get their tips is one too many," said RAI chief Adrian Cummins.
A draft of the Government proposal draws a "welcome distinction between tips and service charges", Mr Cummins said.
Service charges were not tips, he said.
He welcomed a proposal that all outlets would post their policy on tips and service charges in a public place.
IHF chief executive Tim Fenn (pictured) said restaurant owners "may decide to add a service charge based on the service they provide. That's their business. They get to decide what to do with it".
Mr Fenn said even tips added to a bill using a debit or credit card increased tax and other obligations for restaurant owners. He said tipping directly with cash is "the best way for it to be handled, full stop".
Unite official Richie Browne said unions would oppose the Government's plans because they "do not provide a criminal sanction for bad employers who steal from employees".