A prolonged delay to plans ensuring hospitality workers receive all their tips has been branded “crazy” at Westminster.
The lengthy hold-up of the move, despite widespread support, sparked claims in Parliament that “something has gone profoundly wrong” with the country’s law-making.
It was pointed out far more divisive proposals would become law sooner.
The concerns were raised as peers finally welcomed the arrival of the Employment (Allocation of Tips) Bill, which would introduce a legal obligation on employers to ensure all tips, gratuities and service charges are paid to workers in full.
It would also enable the Government to create a code of practice intended to ensure fairness and transparency in how the money is allocated amongst staff, and introduce an enforcement mechanism for employees to make complaints and seek redress.
Members of the House of Lords pointed out the legislation had been in the making since 2015.
Tory former minister Lord Bourne of Aberystwyth, said: “This piece of legislation should go forward, it has taken too long already.”
“Something that is divisive, in the sense that it divides opinion, would get to the statute book much more quickly.
“Where there is virtually universal agreement on something, can we not have a fast-track system to ensure that it gets to the statute book?
“Nobody really objects to the Bill in fundamental terms, and it would be very desirable if we could find a way of fast-tracking it, perhaps from this House, where we are more used to working across the aisle.”
Labour former Cabinet minister Lord Browne of Ladyton said: “It is fair to say that, were the staff who are the subject of the Bill to adopt such a laggardly approach to their own work, the allocation of tips would be a purely academic exercise.”
“The Bill is limited in scope, rights an obvious wrong and has cross-party support. If a measure of such comparative simplicity can take eight years to pass, something has gone profoundly wrong with our law-making in this country.”
Responding, business minister Lord Johnson of Lainston said: “I do not think the House of Lords is necessarily known for its fast-track processes. I would not necessarily encourage any circumventing of our marvellous and ancient processes, but I agree that we should get on with it, and we are pleased to be doing so.”
Earlier, introducing the backbench legislation, Conservative peer Lord Robathan said: “When customers pay service charges, they – we – expect them to go to workers in full, and they jolly well should.”
He added: “Ensuring that tips are passed on to workers in full, with no deductions by employers, could make a real difference to workers’ incomes.”
Lord Johnson said: “Bringing forward these new regulations will protect millions of workers, among them many of the lowest paid across a wide variety of sectors, and give them an avenue to seek remedies.
“Consumers will rest assured that the tips they leave are going, as intended, to reward the good service and hard work of staff rather than lining the pockets of bosses.
“Additionally, those business that are already doing the right thing – passing on tips to workers in full without deductions – will be confident that they are not at risk of being undercut by their less reputable competitors, which is a very important point.”