In an article published today in the London Evening Standard, restaurant staff told the newspaper that they do not get to keep the 12.5 per cent service charge added on to customers' bills because they get paid more than the minimum wage.
Staff informed the Standard that they are told to tell customers the service charge is shared out between workers. They also said that they have been told to hand over cash tips.
In a statement issued via PR representative Greenbrook, a spokesperson for Côte said: "We can confirm that, contrary to recent press reports, Côte distributes the service charge income to the restaurant level of employees at which the service charge was collected. The individual restaurant manager allocates the service charge across all restaurant level employees, as we believe it is important to recognise those preparing the food or cleaning the kitchen, in addition to the front of house staff.
"This service charge element of compensation is always paid in addition to a base amount which is at least equal to the national minimum wage. It is paid through the payroll, net of taxes and NI."
The company added that service charge was not recognised as revenue in its accounts. Regarding cash tips, Côte said: "It is at the waiters’ discretion to keep it for themselves or to include it in a general pot with other members of staff."
The restaurant pays staff an hourly rate of around £7.50-£8, above the national minimum wage of £6.50 for over-21s.