Michel Roux Jr admits pocketing staff service charge

Emma Woollacott
Philips British Academy Television Awards - London
Philips British Academy Television Awards - London

Celebrity chef Michel Roux Jr has admitted keeping every penny of his restaurants' 13% service charge.

The former Masterchef judge has already been forced to apologise this week for paying chefs less than the legal minimum wage - just £5.50 an hour for a 68-hour week.

Last month, a spokeswoman for the restaurant claimed that "all Le Gavroche staff, front of house and kitchen, share in the 13% discretionary service charge."

However, Roux has now 'clarified' this statement to reveal that he has been treating the service charge as revenue. The staff's so-called share, in other words, is zero.

Man almost leaves £1 million tip in Scottish restaurant

Customers at one of his restaurants, Le Gavroche, pay £212 a head for the fixed price menu, with the service charge adding a whopping £27.56. It adds up to thousands of pounds a week.

But while diners may well have assumed that this would go to staff, it's been being pocketed by the restaurant instead.

Social media outraged by cruel 'tipping trick'

"Roux was fully aware that to share the service charge is what the public expects," one chef tells the Guardian.

"He was purporting to share the service charge, but he wasn't. We don't do this job for the money, but he makes out that he shares this money and he doesn't."

Having an attractive waiter or waitress will cost you dear

After it emerged that many restaurant chains were pocketing some or all of their service charges and tips, a government report was commissioned. It found that six in ten diners believe that restaurant staff should get every penny of the cash.

The report recommended that employers should take little or none of this cash, and the government is considering banning the practice altogether.

"We want workers who earn a tip to be able to keep it," commented the then business secretary, Sajid Javid.

"That's why I, like many others, was disappointed by the tipping practices of some of our well-known chains. This has to change."

Roux has now said that he plans to scrap the service charge altogether, instead rolling it into the rest of the bill - which means that staff still won't see a penny.