Wahaca, founded by MasterChef winner Thomasina Miers, is the latest UK restaurant group to come under scrutiny for its tipping policies. The Mexican street food chain, which operates more than 25 locations, has been accused of skimming staff tips, according The Guardian. Wahaca staff members say they're required to pay a 3.3 percent levy on card sales and .075 percent levy on cash sales at the end of every shift, regardless of how much the waiter received in tips that day. Staff say they sometimes surrender as much as 50 percent of their tips each week to the levy. Another restaurant worker stated that he was essentially being asked "to pay rent."
In response to the allegations, Wahaca defended its policy, stating that tip charges are pooled and redistributed to bar workers and back-of-house staff. "The person who cleans the dishes is as important as the general manager and the waiters and waitresses," says Miers. "Our customers don't want to pay a service charge, so what we have done over the last eight years is come up with what we think is the fairest way to make sure everyone takes home the best money."
Restaurants in the UK have been under the microscope recently for what some say are inconsistent and unfair tipping policies. Côte and Pizza Express are both accused of skimming worker's tips, and Jamie Oliver is currently embroiled in a similar tipping scandal. Workers at Oliver's chain, Jamie's Italian, revealed that they have to pay a two percent levy from table sales generated during each shift. Oliver, like Wahaca, claims the levy is distributed to other staff members at the restaurants.
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