The ethics of tipping in the gig economy

The ethics of tipping in the gig economy

Currently, there is a great debate among gig economy workers on whether or not to accept orders without a tip, which is causing a great divide among independent contractors throughout the United States.

Self employed gig workers are not privy to the basic rights that regular employees receive, such as guaranteed pay, insurance, holiday and sick pay, and parental leave. Each individual gig job offers a base pay that is sub minimum wage, leaving gig workers dependent upon tips in order to survive.

The growth of the gig economy has surged through the coronavirus pandemic, allowing millions of Americans to utilize services such as grocery and food delivery platforms, leaving gig workers who are paid less, at a heightened health risk from more exposure to the virus.

Gig workers are undervalued and underpaid, and the tech giants are determined to keep it this way. This has forced gig workers to rely on tips to make ends meet. 

The standard tipping protocol for service workers in the United States, is approximately 15% to 20% of the total bill, but there is a grey area for the 57 million Americans who work in the gig economy, leaving the tip expectation unclear, as there isn’t a set tipping norm for independent contractors.

Because of this, too many gig workers justify accepting orders without tips attached, devaluing their own worth.

There are many reasons why people don’t tip, such as economic status, social status, ignorance and refusal. Many gig workers succumb to the customers who believe they shouldn’t need to tip someone for simply doing their job, and by doing so, our own gig workers are enabling customers to continue this unethical pattern of social shaming.

Customers who don’t tip are not interested in placing value or reward on a service, done well.

Gig workers provide a service that conveniences customers and should be tipped accordingly, which is at least 15% to 20% of the total cost of the service, yet the debate and division among gig workers continues without cease.

Many argue that the cost of these services is already high for customers and therefore, understand and condone why customers repeatedly refuse to tip.

Others argue that delivery apps are a luxury service, and it is not morally ethical to cut gig workers out of the fiscal equation, thus stand by the coveted phrase, “No Tip, No Trip”. 

While it is uncertain whether or not gig economy workers will ever reach a common ground on the ethics of tipping, one thing is certain, we as gig workers, are a national community, and need to support each other in knowing and demanding our worth.

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