#Providenciales, December 1, 2018 – Turks and Caicos – An overnight announcement from the Minister of Employment has pushed back the date for the start of collection and distribution of 100 percent of ‘Service Charge’ for hospitality workers under the new law.
The PDM Administration, which managed to get the Service Charge amendment passed in the House of Assembly with bi-partisan support this past September, had announced that December 1, 2018 would be the start date.
The changes in the law now allow hospitality workers to benefit from 100 percent of the service charges applied to hotel guests’ bills. The new legislation would have also allowed resorts to charge a Facility Fee to make up for the 40 percent revenue loss due to the measure for all of the Service Charge to be paid directly to workers.
The delay in start of the 100 percent Service Charge to resort staff is a disappointment. Hospitality workers had already been banking on the hike in take home pay for the holiday season, with the law finally altered after decades of agitating.
In his statement, Deputy Premier and Border Control Minister Astwood explained that, “the delayed commencement of the Hotel and Restaurant (Service Charge) Ordinance 2018 to enable further public education and readiness for the new regime as well as to make any required legislative clarifications by way of amendments to avoid ambiguity and ensure proper understanding of and compliance with the Ordinance. In the meantime, service charge will continue to be collected as currently provided under existing law.”
And there was likely to be confusion.
Among other things, the implementation of full Service Charge to hospitality workers was not to apply to bookings made before the law took effect. For example, if a guest booked in March 2018 for their stay in December 2018, the new law would not be applicable.
Premier and Finance Minister Sharlene Robinson, on Wednesday clarified in a one on one interview with Magnetic Media that: “…remember that is for reservations booked after December 1, 2018. We can’t ask operators to stick their hands in their pockets for reservations made before.”
The delay in the Service Charge amendment activation now means not even the December 1, 2018 bookings will be affected by the change. No new date was offered as the start for the 100 percent Service Charge to workers.
The Service Charge is expected to boost the income of over 7,000 people in the Turks and Caicos workforce.