WMT hospitality and leisure update – Christmas 2016
With Christmas rapidly approaching I hope this update finds you both well and incredibly busy with customers.
At this time of year it’s traditional to look back on the year just gone and look forward to the one to come. So much has happened over the last 12 months that in future years whenever people ask “in what year did…”, the answer is highly likely to be “2016!”.
National Minimum Wage
In the final Autumn Statement (big announcements will now be made as a part of the Budget, which is moving to…the autumn) the Chancellor confirmed the next increase in the National Minimum Wage, which will take effect from 1 April 2017.
The headline rate (for those aged 25+) is increasing by 4% to £7.50 per hour, with corresponding rises for the more junior rates. The increase is a little lower than the level previously signalled by George Osborne. This will be something of a relief, given the fact that the skills and labour shortage in London is now putting real upward pressure on pay rates regardless of any Government action.
There is also significant anecdotal evidence that HM Revenue & Customs (HMRC) are stepping up their enforcement activity in the hospitality sector concerning Minimum Wage. Up until now, HMRC reviews have only taken place when prompted by a complaint.
In addition, particular attention is being paid to consensual deductions from pay, clothing worn by staff, how employment contracts for salaried staff are worded, and the true number of hours worked – particularly by chefs.
Media focus and attention
Which leads on neatly to some other issues that are generating headlines at present.
Michel Roux Junior’s admission that he had failed to pay his chefs the Minimum Wage was swiftly followed by vociferous criticism of the (perfectly legal) way in which he had apparently chosen to deal with service charge at Le Gavroche. The moral here seems to be that it is not enough to act legally, but it is also important to act in a way that will be seen by consumers and commentators as “ethical”.
Our advice concerning tronc remains as it has always been – that it is perfectly possible to deal with tronc in a way which most reasonable people would agree was “ethical” but still brings financial benefits to staff, businesses, and consumers.
The Government’s tipping consultation closed just four days after the referendum earlier in the year. Given the result, the subsequent confusion over the way forward with Brexit, and a new Secretary of State it’s perhaps not surprising that there has been radio silence since then.
We can be certain the issue has not gone away – Unite will ensure that – but the hope must be that, given all of the challenges the sector faces next year, the Government will conclude that increased transparency is the answer rather than more wholesale, and damaging, change.
My own view remains that Ministers will require businesses to pro-actively tell customers how much of the service charge is retained and how much is distributed, and whether a tronc is in place.
Watch this space.
Exciting news for clients
For the last few months we’ve been working on the development of brand new and unique web-based tronc software for our clients.
The new software will give you an easy to use, streamlined interface to submit your data through. We have designed it to be compatible with data exports produced by various packages such as Fourth Hospitality and Planday.
I think the software will bring real benefits to you and your team, including allowing you to make recommendations for new and existing employees.
We are busy testing the software for launch in early 2017. We are planning to roll it out in phases throughout next year, ensuring that you have all the help and support you may need.
Here’s a teaser screenshot below…more will be revealed after Christmas.
May I take this opportunity to thank you all for your ongoing business and support this last year and we look forward to continuing to work with you in 2017. I wish you and your team the compliments of the season and very best wishes for a prosperous and successful 2017.
WMT Troncmaster Services
…and all the team: Susan, Sylvie, Rachael, Karen, Giles, Karen, Charlotte and Fareeha