Mexican restaurant chain Wahaca has recently updated its eat-and-run policy, clarifying that waiters will not be made to foot bills when customers run off without paying. This change was sparked following one customer’s Twitter outrage when she witnessed an eat-and-run incident at Kentish Town’s Wahaca, where one waiter said he would be made to cover the costs of the bill from his wages.

Wahaca wished to make clear that their policy dictated that the amount waiters would have to pay would be 30% of the bill. Nonetheless, in its new policy, the chain claimed that it may still require the waiter to pay in the case of serious negligence, whilst also reserving its right to investigate the issue nonetheless if it believes a waiter was “complicit” in the situation.

The union Unite has also stated that it has been notified of various catering chains where service charges paid by card are retained in order to cover eat-and-run customers’ bills, instead of being given out to waiters.

The law provides that no deductions to wages may be made unless they are specifically provided for in the employee’s contract. Of course, if such deductions provide for instances of employee negligence or malice, then training and appraisals to combat such behaviour must be provided for. Otherwise, claims against the unfair nature of such provisions may naturally be opened and would also stand reasonable chances of success.

By law however, deductions cannot drag one’s salary below minimum wage, whilst retail industry regulations provide that deduction for shortfalls cannot exceed 10% of one’s salary. The contract of employment must be particularly specific about the instances in which such deductions may be made.

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