The Government has confirmed that legislation around tipping policies will not be implemented until later in the year at the earliest.

In response to a question in Parliament this week, business minister Kelly Tolhurst said any legislation would not be brought in until the next session of Parliament, which begins in September.

The debate has been ongoing for many years but was suddenly revived by the Conservatives ahead of their part conference in October, when the party announced it would “introduce tough new legislation to ensure that workers get to keep all of their tips - banning employers from making any deductions”.

The announcement was widely criticised by the sector at the time after the party briefed national newspapers with incorrect information about the policies of leading brands.

UKHospitality chief executive Kate Nicholls told MCA: “The industry has made great strides forward over recent years in delivering fair tips and ensuring they are shared with staff. We are pleased the Government clearly recognises this now - something that it failed to do in October - and understands that rushed or bad legislation could undermine this. It is better to take time and get things right by working with businesses rather than rushing with all the unforeseen consequences that may entail.”

Writing in BDO’s Restaurant and Bars Report this week, the company director of tax, Andy Hamman, wrote: £Does the sector need legislation? An interesting question and a somewhat difficult one to answer. Most operators feel the sensible answer must surely lie in self-regulation with legislation being unnecessary. However, and playing devil’s advocate, one cannot ignore that this has been tried in the past, lasted a few months and then things fell back to the way they were before. In effect, self-governance came and went, as press interest waned.

“However, the majority of businesses did work within the framework outlined in the 2009 Department of BIS voluntary code of practice and more recently in 2018, UK Hospitality published guidance in the form of a Code of Practice that has the backing of Unite. In addition, HOSPA has published a comprehensive guide covering all aspects of dealing with tips and service charge and operating a tronc arrangement. One would have hoped this was enough if self-regulation is the right answer. On the flip side, there is still a huge differential in terms of retention made by some operators. Perhaps therefore, the only way there can ever be a level playing field is by way of legislation.”