Tipping taskforce is set up

The restaurant industry is setting up a taskforce to determine how gratuities should be fairly divided among staff at eateries throughout the island.

The Department of Employment Relations this month began enforcing regulations that would effectively eliminate one method of gratuity distribution, known as the points system.

This move led to a meeting between the department’s director Lonny Tibbetts and representatives of the restaurant industry in the Cayman Islands Tourism Association (CITA) on Friday at which it was decided a taskforce should be established to come up with guidelines and recommendations on how the industry should divvy up gratuities.

Cliff Woods, representative of the restaurant industry on the CITA board, said the taskforce would draw up a range of methods on gratuity distribution that would meet the needs of the restaurants as well as answer the concerns of the labour department.

‘CITA will create a taskforce for gratuities in restaurants, which will determine the range of methods currently in use in the Cayman Islands and recommend a range of methods that would meet the needs of the Department of Employment Relations and the restaurant businesses,’ Mr. Woods said. ‘We will work together with them to select a range from which the restaurants could choose for specific situations.’

The default method recommended by the department is one by which gratuities are divided evenly among all staff, at front of house and kitchen staff, based on hours worked. Other methods must be individually approved by the director of the Department of Employment Relations.

Restaurants submit monthly reports to the director detailing how they split up the gratuities among staff.

‘The problem with the points system is that it is discretionary, and discretion can lead to abuse,’ Mr. Woods said.

The points system is used in a handful of Cayman’s longest-established restaurants, but has drawn fire from labour officials who claim it is prone to favouritism and abuse. The Department of Employment Relations wrote to the restaurants using the system, ordering them to use another system approved by the department from 1 June.

‘We are cooperating and working together. We have agreed to provide findings from the taskforce in September,’ Mr Woods said, adding that CITA hoped to set up and begin the work of the taskforce as quickly as possible.

The taskforce will be made up of CITA members, with regular correspondence with Department of Employment Relations on its developments.

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