Waiters and waitresses will stage demonstrations outside restaurants today to highlight complaints that customers’ tips are being counted as part of their wages.

Unite said thousands of waiting staff in London were having their wages subsidised by tips which often meant they suffered a pay cut when on holiday or off sick.

The union claimed that most restaurant employers were taking a cut of tips to boost their profits. Unite is campaigning for a change in the law to stop restaurant employers counting tips as part of workers’ wages.

Customers will be urged to leave any tips in cash and to make sure they go direct to the staff.

Dave Turnbull, regional officer of Unite said: "Many customers would be horrified if they knew their service charge went towards paying hard-working waiters and waitresses the minimum wage rather than rewarding good service.

"Eating out in London is an expensive business yet restaurants are raking it in from high prices, sometimes cheating the customer and the worker.

"Tips and service charges should always be considered an addition to a decent living wage.

"As well as urging a change in the minimum wage law that allows employers to take advantage, customers can also help by asking the restaurant where the tips go."