National Minimum Wage (Protection of Employee Tips) Bill 2017: Second Stage [Private Members]

I move: "That the Bill be now read a Second Time."

I am delighted to have the opportunity to speak on this important legislation, following its passage in the Seanad last week. I commend my colleague, Senator Gavan, on his hard work and sheer determination to progress the Bill through the Seanad. I also commend the trade union movement, through the Irish Congress of Trade Unions, ICTU, and SIPTU, as well as the OneGalway and OneCork movements, which have worked hard to ensure the passage of the Bill in support of workers who need to see it made law. I welcome the representatives of the organisations who are watching the debate in the Visitors Gallery.

The Bill has no hidden meaning. It has two basic aims, namely, to give workers a legal right to the tips they earn and to mandate companies to display their tips policy to ensure transparency for customers. Nothing in the Bill will punish or affect in any way good employers. In fact, they must welcome the Bill. Those who will not do so are bad employers who steal their employees' tips, to supplement the till on a slow night or to keep them for themselves. They are who will be affected by the Bill, which we should all welcome.

Last week, Adrian Cummins of the Restaurants Association of Ireland said that in 2010, the Revenue Commissioners estimated that tips constituted 10% of restaurants' turnover. It is clear why the industry is opposed to the Bill. If the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection is taking their side because she feels they are owed something because of the increase in the VAT rate for the hospitality sector from 9% to 13.5%, it is clear she is on the wrong side of the issue. The Bill is for workers who are employed in a precarious and low-paid sector. Many rely on the working family payment to supplement their low pay. They are the very workers who constitute the more than 100,000 people who work and yet live in poverty. They are the workers who get up early in the morning and go to bed late at night. We must ask ourselves why so many workers in the sector are forced to rely on tips to get by. They are living on the minimum wage or less but the money they should receive in tips as a reward for their hard work, to top up their wage and make life a little easier, is being withheld from them.

I am sure the Minister will outline all the reasons the Government will not support the Bill but they are just excuses. They make no sense and do not stand up to scrutiny. The Bill has nothing to do with taxation. It will have no impact on the current practice of giving tips or on taxation. Revenue is clear that where tips are received directly from patrons, there is no obligation on the employer to operate PAYE, the universal social charge, USC, or PRSI on the amounts received. Where tips are paid by card, the employer must operate PAYE, USC and PRSI on the tips received. Employees are obliged to declare cash tips to Revenue. All such practices will remain the same and will not be interfered with following the passing of the Bill. It will be a shame if the Minister goes down the road of using taxation as an excuse for not supporting the Bill, as she did in the Seanad last week, given that no such taxation alterations are included therein. The Minister's newfound desire to take action on employee tips, in bringing forward her own legislation, as she did previously with the banded hours Bill, following Sinn Féin's lead on workers' rights issues, is welcome but her proposal will not tackle the core issue. Her proposal to make it illegal for tips to make up a person's contractual wage is fine but it does not deal with the issue. Instead, she is telling employers they cannot use tips to make up the wage but that they can pocket them.

The Minister has a simple question to answer. Does she believe that workers are entitled to their tips or not? It is a simple "Yes" or "No" question. She has an opportunity to put aside politics and work together, including with the trade unions and their representatives who are present, to make life a little better for the most hard-pressed workers in the State.

Táim fíor-bhuíoch as an deis labhartha ar an mBille tábhachtach seo agus iaraim tacaíocht ó gach aon Teachta dó.

If passed, as I hope it will be, the Bill will represent an important step forward in strengthening workers’ rights, particularly for those in the hospitality sector, who are often on low pay and who suffer disproportionate levels of exploitation in the workplace. The Bill will ensure that workers' tips will be given legal protection by making it illegal for an employer to withhold or deduct staff tips and will require businesses to display their tipping policy in order that customers will know how tips are distributed. No reasonable person could disagree with either of these clauses. They are positive measures and the Bill has rightly received tremendous support from the trade union movement, not least through ICTU, as well as from the OneGalway and OneCork organisations. They recognise the importance of the Bill, as I hope every Teachta Dála will when the vote is taken.

If we leave a tip in a restaurant, bar or café, we all reasonably and rightly expect that the person who served us or who prepared our food or drink will receive the tip, or at least a cut of it, but that is not always the case. Most people are surprised and angry to learn that workers do not have a legal right to their tips, which is a problem. Research conducted in 2017 highlights that one third of employees' tips are regularly stolen or dipped into by their employers. Nobody can stand over that or allow such practices to continue. Workers deserve their dues, fair treatment, their wages and their tips. That is the way it has to be. In that regard, the Bill is unashamedly pro-worker but I emphasise that it is not anti-employer in any way. There are not two competing, mutually exclusive demands. No good employer has anything to fear from the Bill and, in fact, many employers have welcomed it because it will remove from employers the responsibility and burden for the administration of employees’ tips and put workers in control of the tronc scheme. That is welcome and will bring transparency to the system in workplaces. There is no downside to the Bill unless one happens to be a bad employer. There are some of them around but those who breach the provisions of the legislation rightly deserve to face the sanctions outlined in the Bill. For the vast majority of employers, however, and for employees alike, the Bill is good news and should be made law.

Iarraim ar gach Teachta tacú leis an mBille atá romhainn. Let us get the Bill passed and enacted. Let us do the right thing.

I welcome the opportunity to speak to the Bill, which was sponsored by the Sinn Féin Member, Senator Gavan, and I am delighted that it has been passed on all Stages in the Seanad. I hope the support we have received from other parties will continue as the Bill makes its way through the House.

The Government predictably opposed the Bill, which is unfortunate. I was disappointed, in particular, with the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport and the Minister of State at the Department, Deputy Griffin, who did not think enough of those working in the sector to support our Bill. I hope they reconsider their position and take seriously their responsibilities towards those employed in the tourism industry. Often, when tourists visit Ireland, the reception they receive from those working in the hospitality sector stays with them forever.

This is known as the land of the céad míle fáilte but if we look at any of the TripAdvisor reviews, the making or breaking of any business, whether it is a hotel, a bar or a club, is the reception people receive from the staff working in the hospitality area.

Many people are surprised that hospitality workers do not have the legal right to their tips and that one third of all tips are taken from them by their employers on a regular basis. This Bill will make it illegal for any employer to withhold, deduct or demand the return of a tip from an employee. The Bill will also require that employers display their tipping policy on menus or in another suitable manner to ensure that customers have transparency with regard to whom and how their tip is distributed.

As Sinn Féin spokesperson on tourism, I am acutely aware of the poor pay and conditions endured by many workers in the sector. The Government, every so often, brags that 260,000 people are employed in tourism but it ignores the fact that many of these workers have to contend with low pay, and uncertainty in respect of working hours and seasonal work, which leaves many people having to draw social welfare over the winter months. The very least these workers deserve is to be in control of their own tips. Hospitality workers work hard and they often work long and unsociable hours. By God, they earn their tips and they rely on them because most people in the sector earn very little pay.

Employers have nothing to fear from this Bill. The only people who will lose out are employers who steal the tips of their employees. The Government might prioritise such people but anyone with a common shred of decency will recognise how wrong and unfair that is.

This Bill is short, simple and to the point. It will give workers the legal right to their tips and it is positive legislation. I hope the Government thinks over what it is doing and comes on board to support the Bill.

Momentum has built behind the Bill. I commend Senator Paul Gavan and his team for this initiative. I also commend ONE Cork, ONE Galway and all the people involved in the hospitality sector who have generated this momentum. This momentum has, albeit belatedly and hurriedly, prompted the Government to bring forward proposals. Amidst that momentum, there is a fair bit of discussion, a fair bit of interest and a few reactions. Among the people to whom I talk, there is significant surprise that there is no legal protection for people to their tips. Of course, one category of people who are not a bit surprised are those who work in the hospitality sector.

It is a tough job for many people. They often have to face unpleasant and rude customers, they have short-hours contracts, they could be on low pay and there are all sorts of other issues. The least they deserve is to keep the tips the customer intended to give them. It is common sense. It is a very simple Bill. I cannot imagine any good reason in the world that the Government or anyone else would vote against this. I know Fianna Fáil supported it in the Seanad and I hope it supports it in this House. This is a Bill with broad support.

This is a category of workers who are often vulnerable. Their average earnings per week are €320 compared to the average industrial wage of €697. Very often, these tips can be the difference between being able to manage rent for the month or being able to pay the electricity bill or whatever other bill.

It is correct, as Deputy Brady said, that good employers have nothing to fear from this Bill. However, bad employers, who deprive employees of something they are rightfully entitled to, should be nervous. The Government should have no place in defending this. The Bill contains the word “theft”, rightly, because it is theft of tips that were fairly and squarely earned by these people working in the hospitality sector. It is a large category of people. I urge the Minister to reconsider this and I am sure she has been contacted by many people in the hospitality industry. This is a good Bill and it deserves to be progressed. I am glad it went through the Seanad with cross-party support. The Minister is in the wrong position on this. I hope she revises that and gives these people in the hospitality industry their due and their tips.

The Bill before us is straightforward and simple. I do not know how anybody could oppose it. It would give hospitality workers, who are low paid and on approximately half the average industrial wage, a legal right to have what is their own. We have a solution. We have a Bill that has gone through the Seanad and it should go through this House also, without any messing. If the Government or anybody else wants to put forward amendments, they can do so. It would put an end to the injustice of low paid workers in the hospitality sector having money in the form of their tips taken from them. It is unacceptable that any worker would not have the legal right to take home at the end of the evening what is rightfully theirs. Our Bill would strengthen workers’ rights and give more power to people who are currently working in a sector that is dominated by low pay and precarious employment. Most people I have spoken to throughout the country and in my constituency are shocked and surprised to find the tips they leave do not always get to the workers and that workers do not have a legal right to them. Most people are shocked and outraged to find there is a high chance the owners will take the tips with their labour.

My constituency has a large tourism sector, which is good and brings a lot of business and wealth to the area. However, the industry is built on the back of these workers and would not exist but for the work and commitment of those who get up early in the morning and work late at night. It is shameful to think the Government may oppose this Bill and deny each and every worker their statutory right to have these tips. It is telling that the Minister did not find the time to meet with the trade union sector on this Bill but she did meet representatives of the Restaurants Association of Ireland.

I have a money message, given money messages are often popped up in the House to stop Bills. There is a message in this Bill that we should make sure the money that is earned by the workers goes to them. Sinn Féin is a party of ordinary working people and we stand with workers and for workers’ rights. However, we are also a party of solutions and this Bill is an example of that. We have a Bill which would provide the solution for workers and give them what belongs to them. I call on all parties to support the Bill in the Dáil and give it the support it received in the Seanad.

In many businesses, primarily in the hospitality, leisure and service sectors, tipping has increasingly become a common practice. Cafés, bars, restaurants and hotels comprise a large proportion of this sector. Tipping staff, especially after a meal, is something I do, not because I am expected to do it, but because I believe it is the right thing to do.

Customers in general have a number of ways to pay tips and gratuities, whether it is through a discretionary service charge or a gratuity paid to the employer as part of a payment via a credit or debit card, a cash tip paid into a staff box, or, more commonly, a cash payment made directly to the waiter, waitress or employee. None of these payments should be used to make up the national minimum wage, be kept by the employer to cover breakages or the costs of those who have done a runner, or as additional profit for the employer. Sadly, this seems to be the case in many places and staff are not getting tips that customers leave with the expectation that the staff member who has served them will receive the tip.

Tips, gratuities and cover charges cannot be used to make up the national minimum wage but should be paid on top of it. This Bill will amend the National Minimum Wage Act and add protections ensuring that employees receive the tips paid by customers and pass them on to staff members. If this Bill becomes law, it would make it illegal for an employer to withhold, deduct or demand the return of a tip from an employee without a lawful excuse. It would also require businesses to display their tipping policy on a menu or in a similarly prominent manner.

People like to reward good service and courteous and friendly staff. It is to the benefit of an employer in the hospitality sector that his staff do their utmost to make the customer feel at ease and have an enjoyable experience in the restaurant or bar. Quality staff are crucial to enhancing the reputation of the business and a business with a good reputation will lead not just to repeat custom but to new customers. This is vital for the survival of any business but particularly a business in the hospitality sector.

Customers will sense when staff are disgruntled or not happy in their work. I can understand that a member of staff rewarded because of his or her service, who does not receive that reward, would feel hard done by. The tip is a recognition of a job well done. Taking a tip from a staff member is effectively telling that person he or she does not matter.

Ireland is very dependent on the tourism industry. Those at the front line of that industry are often staff in cafés, bars, restaurants and so on. Ireland is famous for its hospitality and céad míle fáilte. This can only continue if we treat those on the front line of this industry correctly. We can do this by ensuring they receive the gratuities they have earned.

I oppose this Bill, as I did last week in the Seanad. I do so not because the Government does not want to help low-paid workers - our record in that regard speaks for itself - not because there is nothing good in the Bill, because there is a lot in it that is good, and not for political reasons, even though that is what has been alluded to by Sinn Féin. My record in the past three years as a member of the Government shows that I will work with anybody who is willing to try to achieve additional protections for workers. I am opposing this Bill because it is fundamentally flawed. This is not only my view, as Minister with responsibility for the working rights of people, but the view of the independent Low Pay Commission, by which I am guided on this matter.

The Government did not oppose this Bill in its early Stages of its passage through the Seanad because I had asked the Low Pay Commission to examine tipping practices and to report back to all of us with its findings. When those findings were examined closely, it became clear that this Bill had taken the wrong direction and it could not be fixed by a few amendments. A different approach was needed and I am taking a different approach, one that I believe will be workable and, probably more important, enforceable.

Who is the Low Pay Commission? The commission is an independent body representing a wide range of interests and perspectives. In conducting its examination of tipping practices, the commission engaged in a targeted consultation with political parties, trade unions, employer and employee representative groups, experts in employment law and State bodies such as the Revenue Commissioners and the Workplace Relations Commission, WRC. It also examined current tipping practices in other jurisdictions similar to Ireland. What were the findings of the Low Pay Commission? It found, as set out in its 2018 report, that legislation or regulation should not be introduced in this area as it could be unworkable and unenforceable. It also found that there could be unintended negative consequences for low-paid workers such as the reclassification of service charges, which would lead to a potential reduction in their take-home pay. The commission also stated that because tips are paid in a variety of different sectors and contexts, the one-size-fits-all approach set out in the Private Members' Bill should not be recommended.

I want to note some specific points that were made in the submissions made to the commission during its examination. The Revenue Commissioners noted that if tips are issued through the employer, PAYE, universal social charge and PRSI, including employer PRSI, must be applied. This is what I mean when I say the Bill has tax implications. These are not my words. They are the words of the Revenue Commissioners. In Ontario, Canada, the Protecting Employees Tips Act 2015 contains a number of similar provisions to this Bill. There is currently to my knowledge no study regarding the effectiveness of this Canadian provincial legislation, but there is at least some anecdotal evidence to suggest that employees' take-home pay was reduced as a result of that legislation. This is not something I can countenance in this country.

The Green Party argued that it would be very unlikely that the State could provide the level of inspection and enforcement that would be required for this Bill to work. The Workplace Relations Commission, which if this Bill is passed would have the role of inspection and enforcement, stated this legislation would be unenforceable. The WRC's adjudication officers rely heavily on paper-based evidence. Tips, by their very nature, do not attract records, receipts and paperwork. In the absence of paper records, an adjudication officer in the WRC would have to consider the credibility of those giving evidence and judge who they considered to be telling the truth. There would be no official paper record, unless a formal system of recording and distributing tips was introduced. This is no easy task. This was a key reason the Low Pay Commission concluded the administrative and compliance costs involved in regulating this area could not be justified. On that point, it was Fianna Fáil that submitted the opinion to the Low Pay Commission that we should not create more bureaucracy in an area that does not warrant it.

The WRC also sees a problem with the Bill's proposed tronc schemes. This is because in the employment rights sphere, claims must be taken by employees against employers. However, when a tronc exists, the responsibility for the collection and distribution of tips shifts away from the employer, and as a troncmaster is not an employer, no claim could be taken against them if they did not distribute the tips fairly. It is in that context, Revenue confirmed, that if a troncmaster is involved in the distribution of tips, they would in fact be required to register as an employer and, therefore, make tax deductions accordingly. Furthermore, the WRC noted that the entirety of section 4 of the Private Members' Bill, which provides for offences, would be impossible to enforce. It said that for section 4 to be viable, the Bill would require an explicit statutory obligation on employers to keep a record for a specified period of all gratuities received and in all forms, cash and non-cash, similar to the record-keeping obligations in other employment law statutes. This is not provided for in this Bill and, if it were, we would be talking about an extraordinary level of bureaucracy and a huge burden.

I want it to be clear that this is not about me finding fault with this Bill. Informed and interested parties, including the very body that would be charged with enforcement of this Bill, have found fault with it. The Low Pay Commission, the Workplace Relations Commission, the Revenue Commissioners, Fianna Fáil and the Green Party have pointed to problems around legislating in this manner. There are other problems with this Bill that should not be underestimated. For example, it proposes to amend one section of the National Minimum Wage Act 2000 in a way that fails to distinguish between tips and service charges, despite the fact that another part of the National Minimum Wage Act 2000 makes an important distinction between them when calculating a person’s minimum wage. That brings a contradiction into this Bill that would make it unworkable.

The Bill also provides the Minister with regulation-making powers relating to the introduction of tronc schemes, but it is unclear from the Bill who should operate these schemes and how they should operate. There is no detail, policies or principles set out. The Bill provides that there should be employee involvement in the tronc schemes but it does not say whether employers should also be involved or which of them should be in control of the tronc schemes. It further provides that a collective agreement on tips should prevail over any provision of the Bill that conflicts with it, but it fails to set any parameters around what is meant by this, what is envisaged by it and who might be a party to it. Many of the workers in this sector do not have trade union representation. There are implications, too, for low-paid workers, some of whom benefit from certain social welfare means-tested schemes, if tips are pooled into tronc schemes and distributed that way.

My departmental officials and I have met, together and separately, industry stakeholders such as the restaurants, vintners and hotels associations, as well as representative groups such as ONE Galway. We have listened carefully to concerns expressed by hospitality workers, university students, secondary students, trade unionists and commentators. It will take a consensus to solve this problem, a consensus that the commission found to be absent in this legislation. I was glad to learn that some of the key stakeholders are amenable to reaching a voluntary agreement on tipping as an alternative to heavy regulation. I have not minced my words with any of these groups around the need to move on this issue. I am seeking to regulate only to the extent necessary to make progress for the workers concerned and to avoid the pitfalls the Low Pay Commission has warned about that would act against the interests of those workers. I want to take a balanced, considered approach.

It is important to note that none of the proposals put forward will be a silver bullet for workers in this sector who have described to me their struggles in terms of paying rent, education fees, car insurance, utility bills etc. There are broader issues at play. As Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection, I can build on the advances I have made with the Employment (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act to help low-paid workers and workers in precarious employment. I intend to amend the Payment of Wages Act 1991 to ensure tips and gratuities cannot be used to make up or satisfy a person's contractual wages and to provide for a requirement on employers to display clearly, for the benefit of workers and customers, their policy on how tips, gratuities and service charges are distributed. In confining the scope of the new legislation in this way, we will support workers and avoid the downsides the Low Pay Commission states are in this legislation.

It is about doing what is possible and that is on what we are basing our measures. The transparency we have can be very strong and can have an important impact. As Members described here earlier, many people who leave a tip automatically assume that it goes to the workers. We have to make sure that it goes to workers. We will bring clarity to what we mean by tips, gratuities and service charges.

I wish to notify the House that while there are the best of intentions in this Bill, there are far too many unintended consequences that would reduce the take-home pay of the people working in this sector. I will oppose it. I wish the House to note that in accordance with Dáil Standing Orders 178 and 179, I have asked that a money message be required with regard to this Private Members' Bill. The Bill, if enacted, would cause significant additional expenditure to be incurred by the Workplace Relations Commission. There are more than 10,000 establishments nationwide in the hospitality sector that would fall within the scope of this Bill. If the WRC was to fulfil its inspection and compliance obligations for even a portion of those 10,000 businesses, there would be a significant additional burden on that State-funded body. This Bill would create new offences. The costs associated with the prosecution of these criminal offences would give rise to an appropriation of public moneys and this necessitates a money message in this case. It would be remiss of me not to raise this issue in the House. It would be dishonest.

That is disgraceful.

The measures that we have outlined will fundamentally change and give transparency to the rights of workers to their tips. In addition, the patrons of all these establishments will know exactly where their money is going.

I wish to share time with Deputies Eugene Murphy, Butler and Murphy O'Mahony.

Having read this Bill, I recommended to my party that it should be supported and we intend to support it. The Bill seems to set out to do two things which are quite simple but, to me, eminently sensible. It seeks to ensure that when a tip or a gratuity is given to a worker in a place such as a restaurant, which is intended for him or her, the person for whom it is intended gets it, and the employer has no right to any part of that gratuity. Second, it seeks to display in a prominent place of business where this sort of activity takes place the policy relating to how these gratuities are dealt with and distributed in order that people will know where their money is going. It seems to me that were I to go out onto the street on a busy day to ask people their opinion on whether those two propositions should be put into law, I do not think I would find a single reasonable person who would disagree.

I acknowledge the Low Pay Commission referred to taxi drivers, hairdressers and such other categories of employment where tips sometimes come into play but the overwhelming majority of people about whom we are talking work in the hospitality industry. They are at the very lowest point of the pay scale, as the Minister will be aware. Many people who rely on tips are part-time workers, short-term workers or workers in precarious employment. They are people who struggle to make ends meet from one end of the week to the other. I was scandalised. I always paid tips in cash and always assumed that when anybody paid a tip, it went to the person for whom it was intended. While most employers behave reasonably, I was scandalised to find that quite a percentage hold on to a payment which was clearly for the benefit of somebody else, namely, their worker. That is wrong and should be legislated out of existence at the earliest possible opportunity.

The Minister has stated she is bringing in her own legislation. I have looked at her proposal. It is laudable and I support it but it will not deal with the issue. It is much narrower. Let us face facts. I do not know what the thinking of the Government is when it proposes a panacea. It wants to ignore this legislation and introduce a panacea which is not a panacea at all. It will not deal with the problem. The Minister can take my word on it.

The Government has raised a number of objections, namely, that the Low Pay Commission told it that because there will be a change in the way these things are taxed, those who are in receipt of tips will finish up with less take-home pay. That is a charade. It insults the intelligence of this House. I do not care whether the advice came from the Low Pay Commission, the high pay commission or any other commission. The fact is that this Bill is about giving workers legal entitlement to what was given to them. That is it. It is not about tax law. It does not change tax law in any way, shape or form.

There are three ways in which a person who is employed in the restaurant business, for example, can get a tip. He or she can get it through a service charge, which is imposed for the benefit of staff. He or she can get it paid by way of credit card, which also goes to the employer. He or she can get a cash payment. It seems that as far as taxation administration is concerned, nothing will change in the first two cases of a service charge or payment by credit card. That comes to the employer anyway and the employer does what it has to do, namely, deducting tax, PRSI etc. In the third category, where one gets a cash payment, the law in this country is that one has to declare that for tax purposes. It is taxable under the PAYE system. The Government appears to be saying that if one changes the law in the way proposed by the Bill, it is still taxable but the employer will be operating the tax on it rather than the employee declaring it directly to Revenue.

Why would the Minister say in her response that the employee will be less well off? The tax rates are the same. Instead of going directly to Revenue, it goes through the employer. Is it the Government's argument that in this third category of payment by cash, it is aware that people are not declaring these cash tips, there is widespread tax evasion and that if we do something to ensure that workers become legally entitled to their tips, all of this will come to light and they will be worse off? With all due respect, that is a lamentable argument for the Government of a sovereign state to hide behind. In any case, the third category I mentioned will become less relevant as the years go by because we have crossed the threshold of a cashless society. In ten years' time, there probably will be no such thing as cash and everything will be paid by credit card, therefore, the argument will be redundant.

The Minister and the Taoiseach dragged in talk about social welfare, housing assistance payments, HAP, and medical cards. They have said people will suddenly not get their medical cards or they may not get as much in social welfare payments or any at all or they might not be able to get HAP. As I understand social welfare law, if somebody is getting a means-tested social welfare payment, his or her whole income is reckoned for that purpose, including tips if he or she happens to be working in a restaurant and is in receipt of tips. That does not change. The same thing applies to the HAP and medical cards. A person's entire income is taken into account. Is the Government again saying that those people are wilfully concealing part of their income, which will now come to light if the Government at last is forced to do the right thing? It is a spurious, threadbare argument.

I will give the Minister one bit of advice as a long-standing Member of this House. We are more than three years into the lifetime of a minority Government. The future is very uncertain. The prospect of a general election looms ever closer, like the sword of Damocles. We can see it right in front of us. The Minister is proposing that some sort of half-baked legislation, which is being drafted as we speak, will appear some time in the indefinite future - maybe before the end of the session - but it will not be law before the end of the session. It seems to me that this legislation deals comprehensively with the problem. It is not perfect. There are places where I would like to see it amended. I am prepared to sit for as many hours as I have to sit in committee to make the appropriate amendments and to discuss any Government amendment.

We should remember that the figures indicate that many low-paid workers are in consistent poverty. People at the lower end of the scale who depend on the gratuities to survive from week to week are having what is rightfully theirs taken from them. That is happening and it will continue to happen. As a House, we have a moral obligation to do something about this and to do it now without delay. I respectfully suggest to the Minister of State, Deputy Stanton, that the simplest way to do it is to allow the Bill to pass. We will all have our ideas for Committee Stage amendments. The Bill can go to Committee Stage next week and, as a member of the committee, I am sure I speak for my colleagues on all sides, we will sit for as long as it takes to get the Bill as right as possible and have it passed into law before the end of this session. The low-paid workers of this country who are in precarious employment and struggling to survive deserve no less.

Fianna Fáil is in favour of increased transparency for workers and consumers in terms of how tips and gratuities are treated and to make it clear to consumers that tips and gratuities are voluntary. We recognise that many employers act in a fair and reputable manner and that many businesses have their own individual arrangements in place regarding the distribution of tips. Moreover, while we also recognise that this is not a black and white issue, we are concerned that some employers behave in an unscrupulous manner and that must be addressed. That is the reason Fianna Fáil supports the Bill.

We recognise that those who work in the hospitality, leisure and service industry play a crucial role in the economy and we are committed to supporting and protecting staff working in those industries. Fianna Fáil believes all workers should be paid a fair and decent wage. It is imperative that the Government addresses issues regarding low paid, precarious work and underemployment which, unfortunately, are too common a feature across several sectors in the economy. Many workers in those industries depend on tips.

One could ask what is a tip. A tip is a sum customarily given by a client or a customer to a service worker in addition to the basic price. Tipping is completely different to a purchase. It is an amount one gives because one values good service. Tips should always be for the staff and should never be seen as a service charge. It is clearly a gratuity payment to recognise good service and good treatment. Unfortunately, we have heard recently that some employers in the restaurant business keep the tips and use them to supplement wages for employees. That is the reason this legislation is important. When a customer leaves a tip, he or she assumes the tip goes to the server not to the employer of the person.

The Bill is short, with three clear aims: introduce a provision prohibiting an employer from withholding tips or other gratuities from an employee; making a deduction from an employee's tips or other gratuities; or causing the employee to return or give his or her tips or other gratuities to the employer. Electronic payments by debit card or credit card have become popular. I always leave a tip in cash, which makes it easier for the server or employee to receive the payment. When it is included in an electronic payment of the bill, it is much more difficult for all concerned. People who work in low-paid jobs depend on the few bob they earn every week in tips. I am pleased to support the Bill.

Although tips are discretionary, many employees in the service industry, particularly the hospitality sector, depend on them to complement their basic weekly wage. Many of those in the service industry in west Cork fall in the category described as "underemployed persons" or persons who work part time, although they are seeking full-time employment. Such a situation is further compounded by the nature of the work, which is seasonal, with many businesses only operational during the summer months. In that regard, the provision of tips bears even more significance to an employee. Aside from the reliance on those moneys by the employee, it is necessary that there be clarity and transparency not only for the employee but also the employer and consumers. Policy information pertaining to tips and gratuities should be clearly displayed in all premises where tips may be handed over to employees.

The Minister has pledged to amend the Payment of Wages Act to ensure tips do not form part of the contracted rate of pay, which should go without saying. I am concerned that the measure does not go far enough. Nothing short of total transparency is acceptable.

Like many of the previous speakers - the Sinn Féin Members who proposed the Bill, my colleagues, Deputies O'Dea, Butler and Murphy O'Mahony - I add my total support to what is proposed. I am in agreement with Deputy O'Dea that if amendments are required we can all work together to ensure changes can be made for the betterment of the Bill. I encourage the Government to allow the Bill to go through. It should withdraw the amendment because the Bill favours people who should get the money. Many of them are part-time employees, work unsociable hours or seasonally and they need it.

When I leave a tip in a restaurant, I expect it to go directly to the people who prepared and served the meal. I would be angry if I found out the money was going elsewhere. That should not happen. The right thing to do this evening is to support the Bill and if we want to make amendments to improve it further along its passage, let us do that.

I spoke to an employer about the issue only last week. She told me she would welcome this type of legislation because it would be clearly there in black and white and the public would understand where in law the money was supposed to go. I am sure many employers who rightly give tips to their staff would welcome such legislation.

Fianna Fáil brought in the National Minimum Wage Act in 2000. We increased the rate six or seven times in the following ten years. I am not surprised that this side of the House would fully support what Sinn Féin is trying to do. There should be no interference by employers with money that is given by a customer to staff who need the money.

There has been much talk about electronic payments. When I go to a restaurant, on paying the Bill, I ask for an extra €10 or other amount back in cash and I give it directly to the people who served me. Some say they must put it into a special container and then the money is shared out. That is fine if that is the way it is done. That is one way to get over the fear that if a tip is paid electronically that it will never make its way to the people to whom it should go.

There are times when one needs to do the right thing and the right thing to do for every Member is to support the Bill and to work to bring it into law as quickly as possible. Many employers would welcome the fact that such a provision would be in law and there would be little or no confusion. People would not say employers hold the tips or do not give it to their workers. It would be clearly there in black and white and there would be no further confusion about it. When I was in a restaurant in the west last year, I saw a notice saying that all tips given would go directly to the staff, which is great. It was there in black and white in public. The public would welcome that.

The Minister has left the Chamber and the Minister of State, Deputy Stanton, is representing the Government. The public is very much against what the Government is doing, which is tabling an amendment to the Bill. In most people's minds, the legislation is the right thing to do. In the name of God, if somebody leaves a tip for an employee in a restaurant for the chefs or those serving the customers he or she expects that tip to go to the staff. That is the bottom line.

I do not propose to detain the House for long. We unequivocally support the Bill. I came to the House with the expectation that the Government would have taken into consideration the points made in the Seanad and supported the Bill on that basis, but I am disappointed to hear, yet again, that it will use the tool of the money message to stymie the Bill. It is a practice that has become more prevalent as this Dáil progresses, particularly where robust legislative measures are proposed by the Opposition. It is another form of the guillotine, to be frank. There was much discourse previously about the use of the guillotine, and the money message has become its replacement, in my humble opinion.

I read the Minister's speech and I am still trying to internalise most of it. I am speaking off the cuff about it, to be honest. I do not understand the Minister's use of the report of the Low Pay Commission as a mechanism to oppose this Bill. Points were made about tips by the Low Pay Commission in its report, but it is not useful to use that as a Trojan horse for opposition to the Bill. I was hopeful that the Minister would say there were challenges laid out in the Low Pay Commission's report and suggest that we try to meet those challenges head-on by working together through amendments on Committee Stage to seek to legislate for this principle in respect of people who receive gratuities. I worked in the hospitality sector as a student and I know one becomes reliant on tips. Arguably, they form part of one's income, but they are nonetheless gratuities. There is a cultural precept whereby tipping is very much part of the hospitality sector. Where the gratuity is given it provides an additional form of income but it is not, of itself, the primary form of income. If we move away from that cultural aspect, we will do a disservice to people in the hospitality sector. The principle that Senator Gavan and others are seeking to establish in this legislation is that people would retain those gratuities and the gratuities would be recognised for what they are, which is something over and above the wage accrued by the individual worker.

However, the Minister has come to the House with quite a bureaucratic and technocratic response, using the Low Pay Commission report as a mechanism to kick this legislative proposal to touch. The idea of the troncmaster is used as a mechanism to oppose the legislation by saying it would have certain obligations in respect of reporting to the Revenue Commissioners. That is not insurmountable. It could be legislated for on Committee Stage if we are imaginative. It is not good enough to come to the House to express sympathy or empathy for the situation in which workers find themselves unless one comes forward with an alternative or at least an expression of goodwill towards progressing the legislation, without using a de facto guillotine of the Bill through the money message tool.

The ownership of tips is not considered wages under the Payment of Wages Act. That appears to be the kernel of this issue. There is a majority view in the House in favour of this legislation. If a majority view in favour of the legislation has been articulated by the political representatives of parties and entities, it is a matter for the Government to allow this Bill to proceed to further examination on Committee Stage. We must recognise the majority view and the paradigm that exists in this House whereby if the majority of political parties express a view in favour of legislation, the Government of the day should respect that and at least allow it to proceed to the next Stage. We will wait to see what happens on Thursday in respect of allowing this Bill to proceed to the next Stage, but I again lament the fact that the money message has been used as a tool to stymie this Bill when it has already been passed by the Seanad.

We stand unequivocally by this Sinn Féin Bill. We recognise the people who helped to craft the Bill and we recognise it as a genuine attempt to ensure that people who receive gratuities get what is duly theirs, without putting a bureaucratic or technocratic imposition on that attempt. From a cultural and societal point of view in the hospitality and other sectors there is a recognition of the principle of giving a gratuity or tip. We should legislate to ensure that the tip goes to its rightful owner.

I am very disappointed to hear the dreaded words "the money message" used again against the majority will of the Dáil. This place goes from bad to worse when it stifles the democratic will of Deputies. It is extremely disappointing. There is also an element of scaremongering in the Minister's statement. Some of it can be quite credible but other stuff is quite bureaucratic and scaremongering.

I congratulate Senator Gavan and Deputy Brady for bringing forward the Bill. It has brought light to the hospitality sector with regard to tips. For my part, I thought tips would naturally go to the workers but that does not happen for one in three employees in the hospitality sector. People would consider that grossly unfair. Most workers in the hospitality sector are non-unionised and have precarious work and precarious hours. It is important, therefore, that the tips are fed down to the workers to subsidise their wages. That brings us to another argument, probably for another day, about a working wage in Ireland. Most workers in the hospitality sector will not earn that. That is another battle we need to fight on another day.

Other Members have mentioned that not all employers are bad. However, there are employers who abuse the tip system to their own ends financially and to rob workers of a fair gratuity paid by the customers for their service. It is important that this Bill gets across the line. One scratches one's head sometimes because one comes into this House to try to make a difference but whenever one tries to do that, a minority Government in this House tries to stifle the will of the majority of Deputies. Most people watching these proceedings will be quite confused and angry that this is being done continuously to stop progressive Bills and matters that could be very progressive when it comes to workers' rights.

It is important that this Bill go forward, but the concept of the money message is stifling democracy in this House.

It was James Connolly who described the socialist movement as the great anti-theft movement. He was obviously talking about the capitalist system of wage slavery and the profits of the bosses being made through the exploitation of and robbery from workers. He did not quite have this in mind, which is taking it to an even greater extreme, whereby one sees the theft of what should be part of workers' wages; it is an element of wage theft by unscrupulous employers. It is obviously part of a very large imbalance of power between employers and workers and finds prevalence in conditions of precarity. It is also part of what is increasingly a two-tier economy in which, despite the fact that formal figures show that the economy is moving ahead, from which some better-off sections are benefiting, we see the prevalence of and massive expansion of low pay and precarious conditions, part of which is the theft of people's wages, including their tips.

I pay tribute to the workers in The Ivy and elsewhere who have spoken out about this and put their necks on the line to expose the reality to the many customers who think that when they leave a tip, it goes to the workers for whom it is intended. I listened to an interview with a worker who said the theft of tips by employers had been found in six of the seven restaurants in which she had worked; obviously, therefore, the phenomenon is widespread. It is a testament to those workers who are speaking out and points to the need for this legislation and the organisation of unions in the workplace as the way to defeat unscrupulous employers on this and a range of other issues and win benefits. Workers in precarious employment, including in the hospitality sector, can be organised. If we look at what is happening in the North, we can see that this is the case in the establishment of the Unite hospitality branch. It has shown how it can be done in a number of employments. Workers are being organised in the South, which is crucial.

I listened to the Government express its opposition to the Bill and thought its arguments against it were very hollow. They involve the idea that this issue is very complicated and that the Bill will not deal with it. It deals with it in a very simple and clear way by stating the tip given is the property of the worker to whom it is given. That seems to be the simplest way of dealing with it.

I wish to make a broader point. I have had it with the Government and money messages. It is scandalous. It is time for the Opposition to call a halt to this practice by the Government. We have the power to call a halt to it and need to do it now. The Government can make its arguments against the Bill and argue why it does not think it is great, which is fine. I have no problem with that, but if a majority in the Dáil pass it on Thursday, in the way it has been passed by the Seanad, the Government should not find another way to block it. It is scandalous and makes a joke of democracy. The people elect Deputies to the Dáil to make decisions on a majority basis, but the Government is now reserving to itself the power to ignore the will of the Dáil. The Minister just threw it out based on Standing Orders 178 and 179; she was going to suggest a money message was needed for the Bill. It is not her role under Standing Orders to suggest a money message is or is not needed for a Bill, but that is the prerogative the Government has taken for itself. It is meant to be objective. As Deputy Gino Kenny and others said, progressive Bill after progressive Bill has been halted by the Government after it has lost a vote. Examples include the Control of Economic Activity (Occupied Territories) Bill, the Prohibition of Fossil Fuels (Keep it in the Ground) Bill, the Provision of Objective Sex Education Bill and now this one. In a good article written by Dr. Eoin Daly and Dr. David Kenny in The Irish Times last week the point was made that this was a cause for great concern and had the makings of a democratic and constitutional crisis. It was stated "dozens of Bills that have been approved in principle by the Dáil are blocked because the Government has refused to issue money messages". It went on to state:

The interpretation of the Constitution and standing orders adopted by the Ceann Comhairle and the Government runs against the idea of democracy by majority vote and the spirit and purpose of the Constitution. A minority government should not have a general power to override legislation passed by a democratic parliament, and yet that is what has come to pass.

It has come to pass time and again. I suggest to everyone in the Opposition - ultimately, it is Fianna Fáil that will decide whether we should bring this situation to an end - that we end it by amending Standing Orders to bring them into line with the Constitution. We should get rid of the reference to incidental expenses and stop this nonsense whereby Bills that have nothing to do with the expenditure of money by the State are stopped because that is not the purpose of the provision in the Constitution. It was not what was intended and it is being abused repeatedly to stop the democratic will of the Dáil from being implemented. It is time to call a halt to it.

I am very happy to speak in support of the Bill. I organised a press conference this morning to support Senator Gavan's National Minimum Wage (Protection of Employee Tips) Bill 2017 at which a former worker in The Ivy restaurant spoke. She expressed articulately the conditions in such an environment. In July 2018 workers were headhunted by management of The Ivy because they were possibly the best in the city and because of their experience as they had spent a long time working in the industry. They left jobs to work in the restaurant with the expectation that it would be a good place in which to work, with a good atmosphere and decent wages and that they would be given their tips. She explained that her basic pay was the national minimum wage, although her contract stipulated that it would be slightly more per hour. On their first day, staff were shocked not to receive tips given by credit card. They were told that the money raised by way of the service charge would be pooled in a so-called "tronc" to make up the difference between the national minimum wage and contracted pay rates and that tips given by card would be paid the following month after working for six weeks. She said tips given by card were referred to as a bonus and would have been the difference between poverty and survival pay rates. She said that when staff raised concerns about the process, they were promised that they would retain an increased share of tips given by card and that they would be paid fortnightly instead of monthly and that the distribution of tips would be monthly. In November 2018 they received no tips bonus; instead they received a letter accusing them of greed. In December they met The Ivy's London-based HR manager who told them that 100% of the tips given by card went into the tronc to pay wages, with the company retaining the excess after wages had been paid. Given that The Ivy was accepting on average around €3,000 per day in tips given by card, the excess was substantial.

When we raised the issue - I raised it during Leaders' Questions - the Taoiseach told me clearly that it was illegal to use tips given in cash or by card in part payment of wages to make up the difference between the national minimum wage and contracted pay rates. Obviously, The Ivy very quickly obtained legal advice and took the option of giving a tip by card off its card machines. The only alternative is to pay a 12.5% service charge at every table; previously it had only been paid at tables of five and over. That is quite deliberate and an example of greed, not on the part of the workers but on the part of big companies that are undermining others that are trying to pay their workers a decent wage and run a system that could be beneficial to workers in receiving their tips. This morning The Ivy worker said of the seven or eight restaurants in which she had worked - she has 11 years' experience - only one had a democratic way of dealing with tips given by customers. The key point is that when a customer gives a tip, it is given on the basis that he or she makes a decision that he or she has received good service from the waiter or waitress.

The Bill deals with these issues. I cannot say strongly enough that the workers are vulnerable. If a customer asks them whether they will receive the service charge, they cannot answer. There have been instances where stooges have been sent into some restaurants to ask staff this question to see what their response will be. If the response is not the one the management wants to hear, they could be sacked.

That is the environment in which the employees are working. I made the point during Leaders' Questions this morning that this practice of greedy employers does not describe a republic of opportunity but rather a republic of the unacceptable face of capitalism.

What has been happening in the hospitality sector during the past ten to 15 years is the same type of practice that has happened with the bogus self-employed, zero-hour contracts and underemployment. There has been an attack on workers' pay and conditions on the basis of bosses who are greedy and want to keep getting more profit while they may be under pressure due to costs related to their industry. They are going after workers' pay. They are going after the workers' tips and, essentially, it is tip theft and wage theft.

I thank the Sinn Féin Deputies for bringing forward this legislation. I am sure it will progress and be dealt with in committee. It is bad for democracy that the Government has again raised the issue of a money message with this Bill. These workers need some sort of response and the sooner the better. When will the Minister bring forward the heads of the Bill she is proposing? Will it be next month, before the Dáil rises for the summer recess or before the next general election? We do not know. This Bill has progressed since 2017 to the Stage it is at. I thank Sinn Féin for bringing it directly into the Dáil on Second Stage. I believe it will progress and be dealt with in committee in good faith, not in bad faith, which is what is happening on the Government side.

I read an article while I was getting some information on the Bill. There is much reference to the Low Pay Commission. It has raised issues about this and they should be examined. It made the point in its report that the Union of Students in Ireland and Sinn Féin submitted the results of surveys in the ONE Galway campaign that they had undertaken which examined the practices within the hospitality sector and included data regarding the withholding of employees’ tips by employers which showed that one in three workers are not receiving those tips. The commission went on to state it:

[D]id not consider undertaking its own survey into the matter. However, given the time constraints involved and the problem of trying to accurately survey what is, in essence, an informal and undocumented practice, the Commission did not feel such a survey was a practical option.

That is key to the report. It should have gone and got that information. Reporters in the media are coming back with more information on this about different restaurants around town, one of which is the Hard Rock Café. A few of them around town are engaged in the same practice of withholding service charges. This is money that the customer believes should go to the employee who served them. The Minister should review her position on the money message and on opposing the Bill so that we can get this Bill through as speedily and efficiently as possible with the goodwill of everybody in the Chamber.

The Rural Independent Group has the next time slot and its first speaker is Deputy Michael Collins.

I support this Bill and commend Sinn Féin on bringing it forward. It will make a great difference for all hospitality workers in Ireland. It will give them a legal right to their tips and all restaurants would be required to introduce a system which fairly distributes tips among staff. Up to now many felt that there was a wrong being done to workers in this sector. There is no doubt that the hospitality sector is a hard one in which to work and far too many workers are depending on tips to make a living. This sector is vulnerable to season peaks and dips, especially in my constituency of Cork South-West, making it difficult for both employees and employers in off-peak seasons. To this day I cannot understand how the Government raised the VAT rate on this sector in the previous budget. This year’s statistics are showing that the restaurant sector prices are up 5.2% on last year. Does the Government realise it is the pockets of not only the businesses but those of the consumers and employees it has hit?

My concern about the Bill is what will happen to the employees receiving these tips with regard to paying tax on them. As the law stands, they will have to pay tax on these tips. Are Revenue inspectors going to sweep down on these low-paid workers and demand their pound of flesh? These hard-working people are earning just above the minimum wage and now their tip money will be taxed as well. That would be a disgrace. We need to support the people working in our tourism sector and to work towards improving the lives of many vulnerable workers in the hospitality sector. They are on the minimum wage and the tips help them to survive in a country where our living costs such as rent, energy, childcare and insurance are constantly increasing. I know of some places where managers in the tourism sector are taking the biggest part of the tips. There is not proper regulation in place. The hard workers on the ground are only picking up the scraps that are left over. This has to stop.

The Government has hiked up the VAT rate on restaurants, hotels, hairdressers and other tourism industries, yet it has not reduced the universal social charge that it sold to the hard-working people as a short-term measure. The people working in the hospitality sector endure unsocial and long hours and they should get their just reward for this by getting not only the right to their tips but also those tips tax free.

I am glad to have this opportunity to speak in support of this Bill. I thank Sinn Féin for bringing it forward. It has always been my understanding that if someone gives a tip, it is for the waiter or the workers and not for management. It is for the staff. I have had no complaints in my county that anything other than that happens, but I hear it happens in other parts of the country. I am disgusted about that. In my county of Kerry I have not heard a complaint about it from any staff, and I am around it as much as anyone. I am glad to support this Bill to ensure that the staff get the tips. If I give a tip to someone, I would mean it to be for the staff, the waiters and the workers in the kitchen or whoever. It is rarely I go out like that. That is what I always understood the tip was for. If I go back far enough, and I am going back a good bit now, when I was a young fellow cutting hay with a 135 and a finger-bar mower, if I got a tip of a half crown or ten shillings from a farmer, I would make sure I cut it as close it as I could to the ditch for him and that I would leave nothing standing. One man used to give an English pound note every so often and I never forgot him.

Tips are definitely for the staff and not for the management. As Deputy Michael Collins said, there has been a drop in the tourism business because of the Government's drastic increase in the VAT rate, and I hope the Minister of State is listening to me. It has already hit County Kerry and there is a reduction in business. We can attribute it to nothing else but that. We had two great years in 2017 and 2018 but the signs are that it will not be as good this year. There is only one factor that is being directed at and it is the increase in the VAT rate. It was too severe and too much altogether, and the Government should have realised that. I am disappointed the Minister of State with responsibility for tourism, Deputy Griffin, who comes from our county allowed that happen in a county that depends so much on tourism.

Let there be no ambivalence about it, however, that I am supporting the Bill in order that this issue is addressed throughout the country, although it does not appear to be an issue in County Kerry as I have heard no complaints, to ensure that workers get their tips, which is what the Bill is about.

I am also delighted to speak to this Bill, about which I have mixed feelings. I totally agree that a tip is meant for the staff, the waiters, kitchen staff or whoever. Deputy Danny Healy-Rae spoke about being given a tip when he was younger. I also often cut hay but we would not have as many stones in Tipperary as they have in Kerry, so I could get in closer to the ditches with the mowing bar than Kerry fellows, but one could do more damage. However, on a serious note, I am concerned this might be a cynical move by Sinn Féin. Having read the recommendations of the report of the Low Pay Commission, it stated this could be unimplementable and found that it could have unintended negative consequences.

That is something I have found out since I came up here. We pass legislation every day. As soon as it gets dark every night, we have legislation. The unintended consequences can be very serious. We should make haste, or make hay if we get the weather this year, slowly.

Certainly, the tips are for the worker. I vehemently dislike big business and what has happened. Capitalism was mentioned and I do not disagree with what was said. With all the big takeovers, with all the land being bought up in my own county and with the Goodman empire in beef, now we have the chains. There is one not far out the front gate here, down the street and across the road on the corner. I am told that is where there is a huge problem. It is a big chain industry, with queues out the door. It is disgraceful, if they do not pass on the tips. The tips are made with good will.

I was in America for Paddy's day, Lá Fhéile Pádraig, and one is expected to tip there. One is not expected to tip here in Ireland, but we do tip. If we get a good, decent and nice person serving, if that person looks after us as best he or she can, and everything is fine, we give a tip. It is with good will. It is in good taste. It is a good gesture. Why not?

The staff in the restaurant - I have been in there this evening - have a food tasting involving wonderful Irish fare from all over the country, including County Kerry, west Cork and counties Tipperary and Donegal. The staff who work in these Houses never get a tip and they look after us all very well.

I often get a tip from my colleagues to shut up and sit down because a Deputy wants to speak.

I am only saying we should consider this legislation carefully. I will not be able to support it because I do not want unintended consequences where the tips would be included for tax purposes. As the Taoiseach stated this morning, they could be included to deny a person getting a medical card, the bus pass or carer's allowance. We must be very careful.

It might look grand. I welcome it coming up from the Seanad to here. I welcome the research on it. However, we must be careful to make hay, as I said, slowly and make good rather than bad legislation.

I have been a lifelong trade unionist. The first day I went to work, I joined the union. I have been a member of the Irish Transport and General Workers Union, now called SIPTU - a union of which my late father was a founder member in Clonmel in 1934. I was a member of the Federation of Rural Workers and the Amalgamated Transport and General Workers Union, now called Unite. I was a long-time member of the union now called Fórsa. In my day, we started off with it called the Irish Local Government Officials Union. As a trade unionist, I strongly support this Bill. I will obviously be voting for it on Thursday.

I thank Senator Gavan for bringing forward this Bill and commend the Seanad on passing the Bill last week. I ask each and every Deputy in the Dáil to support and to vote in favour of the Bill on Thursday next.

The Minister's contribution was shocking. Words such as "arrogant", "intransigent" and "anti-democratic" come to mind. The use of the money message has been referred to by other Members. This is obviously a tactic to ensure that this Bill does not see the light of day. Of course, because of where we are in this Dáil cycle, the certainty is that no Government Bill will see the light of day either. The Minister's position, as set out here tonight, is anti-democratic. The Minister knows the Seanad has passed this Bill. She knows that all the main parties and Independents in the House, with the exception of Fine Gael, support this Bill. She deliberately uses the money message to stymie this Bill. If the Minister was genuine in this regard, she would allow this Bill to proceed and have it passed on Thursday. If there were areas that she was not happy with and if she wanted to ensure that workers were treated fairly in relation to tips, she could use the legislative process, particularly the committee system, to amend and improve the Bill.

The hospitality sector is a particularly difficult sector for workers. It includes precarious, temporary, part-time, casual and seasonal employment. It is very hard work that involves largely unsocial hours and is low paid. In many cases, it is minimum wage employment. I would say that a significant number, if not a majority, of the working poor are working in this area of employment.

The measures contained in this Bill are reasonable and positive and I do not believe that any good employer has anything to fear from them. A study, as has been stated, in 2017 showed that one third of workers simply did not get the tips that were intended for them. Tips should not be used to make up an employee's wage, to subsidise low wages, or to cover for breakages or shortages in cash or in payments. That sort of conduct by an employer can only be described as theft.

This Bill includes two simple and reasonable measures that the Dáil and the Government should support and introduce. It gives workers a legal right to their tips and it requires all restaurants and establishments to display their policy on how tips are distributed. If that were done, if this Bill were passed, then we would at least have a situation where staff would have access to the tips that customers intend for them.

There are a number of related areas to which I will refer briefly, as I do not have much time. The question of trade union representation for workers in the hospitality sector is an important one. I believe the trade union movement should be putting more effort into ensuring that workers in this sector are unionised.

As I stated, this is a low-wage sector. It is a minimum-wage sector. We need to ensure that all those employed, particularly in this area, would have not only the minimum wage but a living wage on which they could live decent lives and look after themselves and their families.

We must remember also that this sector is one that has had considerable support from the Government in the past few years. Six hundred million euro in VAT was given back to this sector for quite a number of years. It is a sector that has made significant profits over the last period.

This is an area I feel strongly about. I certainly will be supporting the Bill, and voting for it on Thursday. I ask that all Dáil Deputies do the same.

I ask the Government to reconsider its position on this Bill. As I stated, I believe it is arrogant, intransigent and anti-democratic. It would be in the Government's best interests to reconsider its situation. I call, in particular, on two Government supporters, the Ministers of State, Deputies Halligan and Finian McGrath, who in the past were known for their trade union membership and activities, to call the Government to account, to call them out on this Bill, and to vote in favour of this Bill on Thursday and ensure workers in this sector are treated fairly and get the tips that the customers intend for them.

I thank Senator Gavan for bringing forward this important legislation.

The situation in Ireland is that if the Minister of State, Deputy Stanton, or I go to a restaurant or café and leave a tip for the staff who serve us, there is no guarantee that tip will go to the staff.

It could end up in the business owner's pocket and that is wrong. We all know that hospitality workers are some of the lowest paid people in this country. They are in an industry where worker's rights are trodden all over by a significant number of employers every single day.

All this Bill seeks to do is to give transparency to the customers so that they know where their tips are going. It also aims to ensure business owners cannot pick the pockets of their staff. It is a bit rich of the Government, after eight years in office, to suddenly come out the other day and state that it is working on legislation similar to this Bill. That legislation goes nowhere near far enough. Part of that proposed legislation, which nobody has seen but it has been widely reported on, will include a voluntary code of conduct. Another word for "voluntary" in this sense is unenforceable. It is completely pointless and is a Fine Gael cop-out.

It is self-regulation and there are no consequences if the rules are broken.

The workers out there do not find this funny.

If it is voluntary, the only people who will take the legislation seriously are those restaurants and hotels that are good employers. They are not the people whose behaviour we are trying to change with this Bill. We are concerned with those bad employers who simply will not bother with voluntary codes. The Government's proposal also only prohibits employers putting tips towards their employees' wages. That does not stop them stealing the tips and putting them into their own pockets or using them to pay for breakages, stock, etc. Our Bill gives employees a legal entitlement to their tips. It is a much stronger protection for workers. The Government should do the decent thing and support this Bill. It has broad backing and is aimed at protecting and increasing the rights of workers who work in a tough and low-paid industry.

I also welcome the opportunity to contribute to the debate. I congratulate Senator Gavan and commend the support of the those in the Seanad. I welcome all of those in the Visitors Gallery. The hospitality sector is a tough area to work in. We know as public representatives something of what is involved in dealing with people but it is extremely tough, however, in the food and drinks industry. I have listened to many contributions. Sometimes we work on scripts but not tonight.

I was taken aback by some comments in the Minister's opening contribution. I found that some of it was derogatory towards these people who get up early in the morning, go to bed late at night and try to work everyday with a smile on their faces. They are trying to provide for their families. Many people within the industry work very well together and there is a common sense approach to tips. I will refer to one of the earlier quotes from the Minister. She said the Bill provides that "a collective agreement in relation to tips should prevail over any provision of the Bill that conflicts with it but it fails to set out any parameters" blah, blah, blah.

It is a common-sense approach. The Minister has come in with details of technicalities on whatever the Low Pay Commission has stated. She has blamed Fianna Fáil and the Green Party for this, that and the other. This is about giving people back their tips. It is very simple. To some of the people working in this sector, tips are their bread and butter. These tips are what normally feed and clothe the people within the industry, taking into account the austerity we have faced in recent years and the impact of many of the great policies brought in by this Government in the housing and the rental sector. These tips are necessary because the wages are so low. The people who work in this sector are depending on these tips.

The Minister of State can laugh at whatever comments have been made on this side of the House but I believe that this Bill is about doing the right thing, having a common sense approach and giving back to the people that deserve it. The Minister of State will be well aware that this weekend the Ironman event will take place in Youghal. There will be a major dependency on the hospitality sector in east Cork to cater for that event. The hospitality and tourism sectors go hand in hand. We have a great reputation worldwide. Those of us in this Chamber did not build that reputation; it was the people who work in this sector, which is difficult to work in.

I have heard other comments about the Government having a plan. These plans always seem to emerge after solutions have been put on the table. A solution is very different to an idea. A solution has an end product. I appeal to the Minister of State to come on board with our Bill for the benefit of the people, these workers who are on the lowest possible scale of the wages in this country. The Government, however, has made another decision based on technicalities or recommendations. I love the word "recommendations". They are sometimes the idea or opinion of someone else. We are not working on opinions tonight. We are working with the facts and statements from people who work within the hospitality sector. That is what we should be taking on board.

The Minister's contribution mentioned something to do with unions. I was taken aback by that also. It referred to many of the workers in the sector not having trade union representation anyway. That was said as if it was just a dismissive aside. That does not matter. These people have feelings. They need to pay bills. That is what this is about and it goes back to the Bill. This initiative is about giving protection to the employees. I genuinely feel that the majority of employers take the common sense approach. I am well aware of it because we all know people who work in the hospitality sector. There is a fabulous idea in operation in the area. The tips are normally received by the people on the floor who serve the food or the drinks. A chain of events, however, leads from the cleaner to the chef upstairs on to the waiting staff, etc. All of the tips, therefore, are gathered in one pot and then divided out among all of the staff. It is a reward for being a team player. It would be a travesty if the Government does not change tack and come on board to support this Bill and workers in this country.

I have listened carefully to the debate. I commend Sinn Féin and Senator Gavan for bringing forward this legislation. It has been a very good, important and interesting debate. There is no doubt that we all want to assist low-paid workers. The Government has a strong record in that regard. There are, however, ways and means of achieving that aim and, unfortunately, this Bill is not one of them.

After the debate on Second Stage in the Seanad, the Minister requested the Low Pay Commission to examine current practices. That was to include whether legislation might impact negatively on tax and financial aspects on either employees or employers. Fianna Fáil subsequently made a submission and sometimes that party gets things right. The submission made reference to the fact that before any legislation was introduced on employee tips, a thorough analysis of the impact such a move might have on employees and employers would be required. It went on to state that it was essential to ensure more bureaucracy and legislation was not required in an area that does not warrant it.

The Minister made that request to the commission to carry out a study in this area and to report on it. The commission comprises nine members and they are independent. The commission came back with a good report, which was 66 pages long. I read all of it. Few colleagues referenced the report. They have only been rubbishing that report. I am not sure if any Member even read it. I recommend that my fellow Deputies take the report and read all 66 pages, including all of the submissions. They should read all the report and see what it recommends.

In the end, that report, from a totally independent body, recommended that legislation or regulation should not be introduced in this area as the administrative and compliance costs involved would not be justified.

The commission has also indicated that there could be unintended negative consequences, as Deputy Mattie McGrath said earlier, such as the reclassification of service charges leading to a potential reduction in the take-home pay of low-paid employees. That is what the independent commission said. Fianna Fáil also made a submission at the time, which stated that all workers should be paid a decent wage. We all believe that. The submission went on to state that a code of practice should be introduced. It did not say anything about supporting the legislation even though it had been published and debated in the Seanad by that time. Fianna Fáil believed that such a code should be considered as it would improve information to customers and workers and enable business to operate in a fair and transparent manner, which would benefit both workers and consumers. That was what Fianna Fáil stated in its submission.

The Minister of State is missing the point.

I have listened for an hour and half to everybody and have not said one word. The Green Party stated legislation which provides for enforcement in this specific issue would be helpful for a marginal number of cases. I note that many colleagues have said this is not widespread. I think I heard a colleague from Kerry saying it did not happen in that county at all. I do not know whether that is true but I think that is what I heard him say.

Neither does climate change.

The Green Party went on to argue that it is unlikely that the State could provide the level of inspection required for enforcement to be effective. The Minister, Deputy Regina Doherty, is proposing a better alternative. She wants to put forward a payment of wages (amendment) Bill. She wants to bring transparency in the form of prominently displayed notices in business premises. On that we are agreed.

I was struck when I read the commission's report that it would be hard for anybody to disagree with it. It is very clear, comprehensive and very independent. That is one thing we cannot disagree with. Our opposition to the Bill is not for political reasons. It is for reasons of good legislation and because we want to pass an Act that works in the interest of workers in the hospitality sector. Sinn Féin has brought forward a very interesting and important topic. The Government is going to act on that. We are not going to ignore the report of the Low Pay Commission. It states that legislation or regulation should not be introduced in this area as it could be unworkable and unenforceable. The Green Party agreed with that, and it was also echoed by the Workplace Relations Commission. It was indicated in the report that there is a risk around the reclassification of service charges and other matters that could lead to a reduction in take-home pay. We cannot stand over it if there is a risk there.

This Government enacted the Employment (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act of 2018 to help workers in a jobs market that includes casual and precarious work, as was mentioned. This Act obligates employers to give employees basic terms of employment within five days and restricts zero-hour contracts except in limited cases. It also introduced a minimum payment for employees called into work but sent home again without work, and introduced banded hours contracts. Crucially, the Act contains strong anti-penalisation protective measures for workers. We know from feedback we have been receiving that this legislation is well crafted and well conceived, is working well and is helping those it is supposed to help. Similarly, the proposals on tips that are being brought forward by my ministerial colleague, Deputy Regina Doherty, will serve workers well and represent the right way forward. That legislation is imminent and will be brought before the House very soon.

Fine Gael has been in power for eight years.

It will be brought here within days. We cannot support this Private Member's Bill but we will introduce practical, workable measures to tackle the issue. The debate has been useful and helpful. I urge colleagues to read the report of the Low Pay Commission. It is independent and very well done. More work needs to be done in this area. The debate was useful. The Government wants to proceed with something that will work and that will be practical. Unfortunately, this legislation will not work as it is conceived. Deputy Mattie McGrath agreed with me on that point. I thank colleagues for the debate. It has been positive and practical in the main and it serves to highlight an area that needs further examination and work.

I have listened to the Minister of State, Deputy Stanton, and the Minister, Deputy Regina Doherty. It never surprises me how Fine Gael can come up with ways to scupper a Bill that has broad support, has passed in the Seanad and is supported by sectors and workers, the trade union movement and a number of organisations in Galway and Cork, to mention a few. I am struck by the lengths to which the Government goes to try to take down a very decent concept which any ordinary person can subscribe to. Listening to the Minister, I was reminded of my first job as a 13 year old when I worked alongside my mother for a summer. My mother and her colleague, Annie, were the people who cleaned up after the guests in our local hotel. They dressed the beds and made sure everything was fit when the guests came back that night or to welcome new guests. They built up relationships with people who returned over and over again. My mother and Annie always received whatever tips were provided and they needed every single one of them. They worked damn hard in their jobs in the hospitality sector. Others in the same situation, who are also working hard, are being denied those tips because the employer feels he or she can do so as there is no law to outlaw it. That is despicable.

There are a number of bad employers. We have seen all the research on this and have had all the statistics put on record. Still, the Government decides this is not the time or the Bill to introduce. The Minister went to extreme lengths. She knows that one of the only ways to block the Bill is through a money message, given that it has majority support in both Houses. She said she is acting on Standing Orders 178 and 179 in requesting a money message. The Minister knows fine well that the Government cannot prevent this through a money message. It will be the Bills Office that will make that determination. She went on to say that this brings up to 10,000 business establishments within the scope of the Workplace Relations Commission. Every single one of them is already under the scope of the WRC and is already subject to supervision and compliance by it. Last year and the year before, about 600 premises were inspected. They do not go in to inspect compliance with one piece of legislation but look at all of the legislation. Last year, they found non-compliance of 38% in the hospitality sector in respect of the Employment Permits Act 2006, the National Minimum Wage Act 2000, the Workplace Relations Act 2015, the Organisation of Working Time Act 1997, and the Payment of Wages Act 1991. When this Bill passes, it will also be able to look at compliance with it. The signal the Government is trying to send out that this will cost additional money is not accurate. It shows the extent to which the Government is trying to deny people who have been given tips legitimately by customers the ability to ensure that when they finish their shift, or at the end of the month when the tips are distributed, they will get what was rightly intended to be in their pockets, not in the pockets of the employer.

The only thing on which I agree with the Minister of State, Deputy Stanton, is that this was a good debate. The problem is that the people whom this Bill is intended to help do not need debate. They need support. They need the politicians to do their job. A minority of employers are unscrupulous in taking people's tips and using them to supplement very low pay or to bolster their profits. Our job is to ensure they are no longer in a position to do so. Some issues are complex and need very complex legislation. There is no doubt about that. Then there are issues that are black and white, and this is a very simple, black and white issue. I have sat here for the past two hours and listened to all of those who spoke. Deputy Mattie McGrath is the only one who struck a note of discord. Everyone else in opposition spoke in favour of the Bill. They could see that this is a black and white issue. It is for the people in the Visitors Gallery who are low-paid workers fighting to make sure they can keep their tips and fighting on behalf of all the other people throughout the State, including in County Kerry. They would be positively affected by this Bill if it passed.

There is a real sense of déjà vu about this. Two years ago, I introduced a Bill in this House to deal with precarious work, if-and-when and low-hour contracts. Ministers sat there as the Minister of State is doing now.

They made all the same excuses and put in our way all the same blocks, with all of the same red herrings, to the effect that the sky would fall in if the Bill passed. That Bill was to make sure that we dealt with the issue of zero-hour and low-hour contracts. The Government said it could not be done and that if the Bill was passed, the sky would fall in on employers and on the economy. What did the Government do? It brought forward its own Bill very shortly afterwards because it knew that something had to be done. The Government knew that Sinn Féin had put forward a solution but as it did not want to accept a Sinn Féin solution, it brought forward a Bill of its own. The Government's Bill, however, watered down the proposals to the extent that they would have no real impact for the people the legislation was supposed to support. It was through the work of Deputy Brady and others that we were able to include amendments to strengthen that Bill to at least give some comfort to those workers.

The same is happening here. The Minister of State has said that our Bill is not the solution and that the Government would bring forward its own Bill, which is imminent. This flies in the face of what the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection, Deputy Regina Doherty, said earlier in one of her criticisms. The Minister cited the Low Pay Commission and said legislation is not the solution and there is no legislative remedy. On the other hand, the Minister stated she will amend legislation as part of the solution. Which is it? By introducing these red herrings about taxation - which have nothing to do with this Bill - the Government is telling these workers they must wait. Deputy Pearse Doherty is correct when he talks of the application of a money message. All Members in the House are aware this is a tactic by Fine Gael to stop the democratic will of this Dáil and this Parliament. When we have voted for proposals that are in the interests of ordinary working people and hard-working families the Government will try to block it - by attaching a money message - if the proposal does not come from it. I put it to the Minister of State, Deputy Stanton, the only message this sends is that he and the Government do not care about people in low-paid positions.

I ask the Minister of State to put himself, if he can, into the shoes of a restaurant worker who is paid €324 per week on average. Imagine being one of those workers living in Dublin with its high rents. Average rents in Dublin are €1,600 per month. Some workers may have childcare costs. The Minister of State will be aware that restaurant workers work very peculiar and varied hours; it could be morning, evening or night-time. There is no certainty in the employment with regard to hours. Restaurant workers do very demanding jobs and are on their feet almost all of the time they are in work. The only thing they can look forward to that might supplement the very low levels of pay is tips. All the Bill seeks to do is make sure the employees can keep their tips but the Government puts every possible block in the way of progressing the Bill.

The people who are affected do not care if the legislation comes from Fianna Fáil, Sinn Féin or the Government. They want us all to work together to do our job. Fianna Fáil and others indicated they would amend some of the elements of the Bill. That is why we have various Stages when progressing legislation. If there are flaws in any Bill we can work on them to perfect the Bill. If the Government was really concerned about all of the provisions of the Bill, it could have accepted the Bill, allowed it to go on to Committee Stage, perfect the Bill, work with it, and then we could have had legislation in place very quickly with remedies for those workers who need it.

Almost every week the Taoiseach sits in this Chamber and criticises the Opposition for not having solutions. The reality is that we have solutions and we put forward solutions all the time, but the Government blocks them with money messages, by voting down Bills and by defying a majority of people in the House and in Seanad Éireann. When they see the cynical politics that come from Fine Gael and the cynical politics of Ministers who put in place every red herring they can think of to block a simple and basic protection for people with very low levels of pay to keep their tips, is it any wonder that in the last local election, almost 50% of the people did not vote? The Government should be ashamed of itself for not supporting this Bill. The Government is doing it for party political purposes, which is worse.

Question put.

In accordance with Standing Order 70(2), the division is postponed until the weekly division time on Thursday, 20 June 2019.

The Dáil adjourned at 9.55 p.m. until 10.30 a.m. on Wednesday, 19 June 2019.