Hotel employees ask government to bring 10% service charge back

(Photo: Envato Elements)
AMMAN — The decision by the government in 2020 to decrease the service charge from 10 percent of the total bill to 5 percent, because of the COVID-19 pandemic, impacted 23,000 hotel employees, prompting President of the General Trade Union of Workers in Public Services and Free Occupation Khaled Abumarjoub to ask the government to reconsider and bring it back to 10 percent.اضافة اعلان

The service charge is a fee that hotel customers pay instead of tips; it has been levied since 1992. Hotels calculate the service charge, make a monthly average and add it to the employee’s salaries; that naturally fluctuates because it depends on the hotel occupancy rate.

Abumarjoub told Jordan News that the decrease in the service charge has negatively impacted many hotel employees’ income and, more seriously, affected their social security contribution, which decreased as a result and will reflect on the pension.

“This is a huge manipulation that is causing workers to lose some of their rightful salaries. It has been their right for many years, so we are asking that no further harm be done to those workers,” Abumarjoub said.

He added that hotel owners do not want the old charge to be levied again because when the government decreased the service charge, it also lowered the sales tax from 16 percent to 8 percent.  Hotel owners fear that once the initial service charge makes a comeback, the old sales tax will be charged as well.

Khaled Abu Eshtayyah, a hotel concierge, told Jordan News that the decrease in the service charge significantly affects his salary, which was already reduced due to the impact of the pandemic on tourism.

“Even if the hotel is busy, the service charge we get decreased by half. All the employees asked for it to be returned to 10 percent because everyone was affected by the pandemic; for example, if I was getting JD400, now with COVID, I get JD150,” Abu Eshtayyah said.

Jafar Mubaydeen, a hotel manager, told Jordan News that the decrease in the service charge had benefited the hotel guests and increased occupancy rates.

He also said that the service charge may harm workers as some guests do not tip when they pay service charge; moreover, “some hotels do not even pay the service charge to their employees”.

Mubaydeen believes that once the old service charge is levied and the pandemic is over he will get the JD1000 salary he used to  make before it got slashed in half.

Deputy Chairman of Jordan Hotels Association Hussein Al-Helalat told Jordan News that the prime minister took this decision to halve the service charge and sales tax in order to benefit customs, encourage the tourism sector, and make hotel prices compete with those of neighboring countries.

“It was a government decision; if it were up to us, we would have kept it at 10 percent,” he said.

“We support maintaining the service charge at 10 percent, without increasing the sales tax back to 16 percent, because it will benefit the employees,” Hallallat said.

Ministry of Tourism and Antiquities spokesman Ahmad Al-Rifai did not comment.

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