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A LONDON restaurant chain has been “caught out” on its poor employment practices after a waiter was “made to foot the bill from his wages” when customers left without paying.
Sarah Hayward, who is the former Labour leader of Camden council, was dining at the Kentish Town branch of Mexican restaurant chain Wahaca on last night when a table of customers walked out of the building without paying their bill.
Ms Hayward claims she was told it was “company policy” to deduct the cost from the wages of the waiter responsible for the table.
She offered to provide further details of the incident to Wahaca owner Thomasina Miers to ensure that the worker would not be penalised because of the eat-and-run.
Ms Hayward shared her experience on Twitter, where her tweet was shared over 2,500 times with many reacting with anger.
As a result of the online furore, Wahaca have said that the bill would not be deducted from the worker’s wages.
They said that the company only makes waiters cover the bills of customers who leave without paying in cases of “total negligence,” and added that situations like this are “very rare.”
Ms Miers, who founded the restaurant chain in 2007 after winning the Masterchef TV show two years earlier, personally responded to Ms Hayward’s tweet by saying: “We are a company that looks after our staff, and I am very proud of this.”
This was disputed by Unite members who were contacted by the Star, who pointed out that Wahaca was criticised in 2015 for taking 3.3 per cent of workers’ credit card tips and 0.0075 per cent of their cash tips to management at the end of every shift.
Unite hospitality activist Nilufer Erdem told the Star: “This, sadly, is not an isolated case.
“Since opening, Wahaca has been one of the worst offenders of tip theft, according to many current and ex-employees.
“If Wahaca was telling the truth about treating its staff right, it would not have these punitive policies under any circumstances.
“The reality is that the company has been caught out for once and is desperately trying to save face rather than do the right thing.”
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