MILLER & Carter Steakhouses has been rounded by a trade union for skimming tips off staff in the festive period.

A new policy at around a third of the chain's restaurants sees front of house staff required to pass 2% of gross sales every shift to management, kitchen and bar staff.

With per shift sales often measuring in the thousands of pounds, it is understood passing this sum off to other staff can easily mean tip earnings are eliminated, or even result in staff being in debt to their employer.

Sharon Graham, Unite general secretary, said: “Miller & Carter are picking the pockets of its already poorly paid staff.

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"It’s abhorrent, and we will continue to fight this policy until real change occurs.”

Unite, which represents some Miller & Carter staff, says the company implemented the policy in October.

The chain, which operates five steakhouses in Scotland, says that restaurant staff were allowed to vote on the tipping processes used in their venues.

However, Unite says it has seen evidence that the only options presented for consideration at several restaurants were different percentages of sales to pay to management and other staff.

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Further, they say wait staff, who make up a minority of the workplace but most or all of the tips in most venues, have not had a fair say in how their own tips are being redistributed.

Deposits of at least £50 for parties of five or more during the festive season mean some wait staff worry that their tips will be worse than normal due to part of the total being paid up front, deepening the level of tip debt they can fall in to with their employer.

Unite lead hospitality organiser, Bryan Simpson, said: “This is one of the most atrocious tip policies we have ever seen.

"Our members should not be in debt to their employer and Miller & Carter need to stop acting like Scrooge.

"It’s time to give their hardworking waiting staff the tips they are entitled to.”