Latest regulatory updates

Last updated 17 January 

Kurt Janson

Kurt Janson, Director of the Tourism Alliance, gives a regular update on the latest regulatory changes affecting the hospitality industry. 

Disclaimer: Whilst every effort has been made to ensure the accuracy of the information contained in the Pink Book of Legislation, we regret that we cannot be responsible for any errors. Read our full disclaimer

Upcoming new legislation

 

New legislation on tipping

As a result of ongoing examples of bad practice by some employers regarding the distribution of tips received by staff, the Government is supporting the development of legislation that will replace the current voluntary Code of Practice on tipping. The new Employment (Allocation of Tips) Bill is currently going through Parliament and this will amend the Employment Rights Act 1996 to insert new legal obligations on employers to ensure that all tips and gratuities are passed to employees and that there is a transparent and fair process for their distribution.

While the exact requirements of the new legislation are still under debate in Parliament, it is expected that the key requirements will be as follows:

  • All tips must be distributed to employees (and any agency workers) in a fair and transparent manner
  • All tips must be distributed to employees by the end of the month following the month they were collected
  • Businesses will not be allowed to retain any part of the tips collected to pay for costs associated with the collection or distribution of tips. For example, if a tip is paid by credit card, the credit card payment costs cannot be deducted.
  • The distribution process and individual employee allocations must be recorded, made available to employees and retained for three years.

The Bill will also enable the Secretary of State to introduce a new code of practice about the fair and transparent distribution of qualifying tips, gratuities and service charges detailing what would count as a fair distribution for the purposes of the new legal obligations.

It is expected that the legislation will be enacted in 2023 and come into effect in 2024. However, businesses should look to introducing a tips distribution system that complies with these requirements as soon as possible.

 

New legislation on single-use plastics

You will recall that in 2020 the Government banned single-use plastic straws, stirrers and cotton buds in England in a step to reduce the amount of plastic waste being produced.

To take forward this initiative, the Government has just announced that it is expanding the ban on single use plastics to include single use plastic plates and cutlery as well as polystyrene trays. The exact details of the items to be banned is yet to be determined but the initial understanding is that this will cover items that are provided where customers eat and drink on the premises but will not cover items that are provided for takeaway by food shops and supermarkets.

The ban is just for England but follows similar moves to ban these items in Scotland and Wales. No date has been set for the ban coming into effect but it will probably be early 2024. The ban demonstrates the increasing emphasis that the public are putting on businesses acting in an environmentally ethical way, so I would advise operators to look at changing their use of these items to more sustainable alternatives now rather than waiting for the ban to come into effect.

 

Previous updates

With the ongoing dry summer, an increasing number of Water Authorities have introduced water use restrictions, commonly known as “Hosepipe Bans” (although the restrictions can extend to other types of water use and are not just limited to the use of hosepipes).

 

This article explains the process for introducing water use restrictions and the implications for businesses.

 

Why are restrictions introduced?

 

The law on hosepipe bans is contained in the Flood and Water Management Act 2010. Section 36 of this Act allows Water Authorities to ban the use of hosepipes and introduce other restrictions on the use of water if there is, or it’s predicted that there will be, a serious shortage of water for distribution across a certain area. There is no definition or what constitutes “a serious shortage”, so it is up the local Water Authority to make that determination.

 

However, at a national level, the Environment Agency chairs the National Drought Group (NDG) which comprises the Agency, various Government departments, water companies and key representative groups such as the NFU, the CLA and Natural England. The Environment Agency has the power to declare that any of 14 areas in England have reached drought status and call a NDG meeting to share information on the situation and what needs to be done to protect water supplies.

 

The NDG can’t, in itself, impose restrictions on water use, but it provides water authorities with information and support they need to make decisions regarding their own restrictions.

 

Individual Water Authorities make decisions on the level of restrictions that they introduce based on the particular circumstances of areas where they supply water. These restrictions can differ between different Water Authorities and between different catchments under the control of a single Water Authority. Therefore, it is important to find out what restrictions apply in your area, as these may differ from surrounding areas.

 

Do the restrictions apply to tourism businesses?

 

It is important to note that Water Authorities do not have the power to impose bans on businesses. The power to do this rests with Government and, specifically, with the Environment Secretary, who can ban the use of water for any non-domestic purpose as they see fit.

 

At the moment, there are no bans on any form of water use for businesses. However, that said, business should, as closely as possible, try to mirror the rules on domestic water use in order to play their part in conserving water and not drawing criticism for things like watering their lawns when neighbours are banned from doing so.

 

One final point to be aware of is that if you pay council tax rather than business rates, you will be deemed to be a domestic property rather than a business property and, therefore, you will have to comply with any water use restrictions.