Banning employers using customer tips towards the pay of workers in restaurants and bars came a step closer today when the government pledged to take action.
Ministers launched a consultation on plans to stop tips and service charges counting towards the national minimum wage.
Employment relations minister Pat McFadden said: "When people leave a tip they expect it to go to staff on top of their pay, not to be used to make up the minimum wage. This is an issue of fairness and common sense.
"We intend to amend regulations so that tips can no longer count towards payment of the national minimum wage.
"We also want employers to make it clear how they distribute tips so that customers know where their money is going.
"It's crucial we get these changes right and we are keen to hear everyone's ideas as part of our consultation."
The consultation, which will run until February, will also look at ways of improving information for consumers.
Unite has been pressing the government to take action to ensure staff in bars, hotels and restaurants get 100% of tips, service charges and gratuities.
The union's joint leader, Derek Simpson, said: "The Unite campaign for fair tips has demonstrated the disgraceful lengths that some employers will go to in order to line their pockets with tips left for their staff.
"The government must take urgent action to close the minimum wage loophole. This will ensure rogue employers can no longer use money left by their customers, to thank those who served them, to boost their profits.
"The union will not accept a situation whereby the industry which has so far publicly denied the concerns of their staff and customers around tipping, to merely go on regulating themselves. Government action is overdue as staff must not be forced to wait on their employer."