PUTRAJAYA - The 10 per cent service charge imposed at hotels and restaurants will stay.
The Domestic Trade, Cooperatives and Consumerism Ministry, however, will prepare a standard guideline for them to follow.
The ministry's secretary-general Datuk Seri Alias Ahmad said the decision to allow the service charge was taken following a meeting with trade associations, workers unions and consumer groups.
"The meeting took note of several points that were presented by the groups, including the low wages earned by workers in the industry.
"There are still some hotel workers who are paid a low basic salary of RM350 a month, even after the implementation of the national minimum wage.
"If the service charge is removed, the low basic salary makes the hotel and restaurant industry unattractive. This also allows foreign workers to take up the jobs of the locals," Alias said after the meeting yesterday.
He said it was also decided that all businesses that impose the service charge must display a sign notifying customers that the fee is applicable.
On the guideline, he said, it was being prepared with the help of the Attorney-General's Chambers.
"We hope to complete this soon so we can take follow-up action on businesses that do not adhere to it," he said.
The ministry's directive early this month stating that only businesses with collective agreements can collect the service charge, however, remains, said Alias.
Alias said the putting up of notices informing customers that the service charge is applicable at the establishment will give consumers a sense of choice.
"Our survey shows that most consumers are against the service charge. Now they have a choice of whether they want to dine at restaurants that impose the service charge if they are notified of it," said Alias.
On the issue of low wages in the hotel industry, Alias said that it was a matter for the Human Resources Ministry to handle.
Among the associations that were represented at the meeting included the Malaysian Association of Hotel Owners, the National Union of Hotel, Bar and Restaurant Workers, the Malaysian Trades Union Congress and the Federation of Malaysian Consumer Associations.