Boutique hotel chain Malmaison has been targeted by the Unite union to highlight alleged low pay, long hours and unfair tipping practices in the UK hospitality sector.

Members of the union were due to lobby wedding showcases staged at the company’s hotels in London and Leeds yesterday (Sunday).

Unite’s #FairTips campaign has been targeting Malmaison on Twitter and other social media, alongside leaflet and poster campaigns outside hotels throughout the UK.

Malmaison has 15 hotels in the UK and is part of the Singapore-based Frasers Hospitality Group.

Unite claimed that in talking to staff it uncovered that some hotel managers could be keeping back service charge payments from customers in order to pay for breakages or to top up tills that are short of cash.

Concerns over unfair and unsafe practices in the workplace such as health and safety breaches and alleged management bullying were also raised, according to the union.

Unite contacted staff at Malmaison as part of a campaign to improve working conditions in the UK hospitality industry.

Unite members planned to hand out leaflets outside the two hotels holding wedding fairs yesterday, calling on Malmaison CEO Paul Roberts to sign up to a five point pledge for “decent work in hospitality”, including fair tips, an abolition of zero hours contracts and union recognition.

Unite national officer Rhys McCarthy said: “Our message to Malmaison and the rest of the industry is simple – hospitality starts with your workers. And our message to customers is that any company that isn’t hospitable to its staff will probably not be very hospitable to you.

“We’re calling for decent work at Malmaison. That means a wage workers can live on, fair tips, safe secure work with an end to workplace bullying. Workers should get guaranteed hours each week with no more zero hours and training, development and career opportunities.

“All of that has to be guaranteed by an active voice for workers and proper union recognition.

“That’s what Malmaison workers deserve. And when we’ve won that battle, we’ll be moving on to other hospitality employers throughout the UK.”

Malmaison said it had a “100% policy” of distributing service charges to food and beverage staff and it goes above the living wage in terms of staff pay.

A company spokesman said: “Malmaison operates to best in class standards regarding employee engagement.

“It operates a fair, transparent policy regarding all aspects of remuneration. All employees, regardless of age requirements, are paid at least the National Living Wage.

“Additionally, it is the rule that 100% of the service charge received is paid out to food and beverage employees and any breach of this will be thoroughly investigated.”