Coronavirus: Tipping etiquette in the pandemic era
For more than four billion people, homes are now the epicenters of life due to government restrictions as a response to coronavirus, or COVID-19.
To make our homes cross-function as offices, bars, gyms, restaurants, schools, and daycare centers, we depend on workers who put their health before our own to deliver groceries, prescription drugs, and all the items we bought to make our time indoors as comfortable as possible.
As delivery workers play this essential role, we compensate these people and show our appreciation by tipping, of course. But how much? Well, there’s no precedent.
“We are making up these rules as we go along,” said Lisa Grotts, an etiquette expert. “It's just a perfect example of how etiquette is evolving in all aspects of our world communication.”
Cashay connected with Grotts, to understand how these everyday people — who are among the nation’s lowest earners, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, and who are on the frontlines of restaurants, cafes and markets, or recently laid off, can be financially supported.
‘25% to 30% is the new 15% to 20%’
With 30 states and counting banning in-restaurant dining, as of April 2, servers are not able to perform the same level of service.
“Because if a service is offered, even during hard times, it still requires a level of generosity,” Grotts said. “Let's put it this way: 25% to 30% is the new 15% to 20%.”
Meaning the 15% to 20% tipping standard for service is now bumped up to 25% to 30%. If you live in a state where dining is on a temporary ban and you’re relegated to curbside pickup, Grotts says a $10 or 30% tip is reasonable.
For a doorway delivery of food, groceries, or drug prescriptions, Grotts says $5 is a good place to start and can be increased depending on the size of the order or if the delivery person was required to climb stairs in an apartment building.
When using a mobile delivery app like Seamless, DoorDash or Grubhub, you can add additional tip beyond the recommended amount to avoid breaching the 6-foot distancing to hand someone cash.
Beyond tipping: Help people you employ
If you employ people who provide assistance like childcare, dog walking, landscaping or gardening, housekeeping, or personal fitness training, you might not be using their services right now.
But Grotts said there are creative ways to keep them earning and employed, your budget permitting.
To supplement their income while still social distancing, you can ask your childcare provider or housekeeper to do things outside of the home, like picking up items when they are grocery shopping and then leaving them outside of your door.
You can also set hours for a sitter to read stories or host an arts and crafts project for your child through a virtual chat platform like FaceTime, Zoom or Skype.
To limit personal connection, you can work with your personal trainer to create home workouts using equipment you might have on hand or conduct virtual workouts.
Crowdfunding for those who depend on tips
Putting cash in someone’s hand and saying thank you doesn’t translate in today’s climate. As doctors and scientists understand how COVID-19 is transmitted, there’s a reticence to use cash and an emphasis on contactless digital payments like Venmo, PayPal, Zelle, or Apple Pay.
Hospitality workers have been among those the hardest hit by the pandemic and many are laid off or furloughed. Several sites have popped up to enable patrons to virtually tip out-of-work service staffers, while they await unemployment benefits and stimulus checks.
Covid Tip Jars, Virtual Tip Jars, and Service Industry Tips are online databases of cafes, bars, and restaurants with directories and links to how to instantly send employees money to demonstrate your appreciation.
If you choose to donate to a particular establishment or all of the establishments in a given city, scan crowdfunding site GoFundMe to see if a donation drive is in process.
A tip isn’t always appropriate
It comes from a good place, but some individuals aren’t allowed to accept your tip, no matter how much you might insist.
Healthcare professionals are getting their shining moment, but for all of your appreciation and applause, pharmacists, nurses, physician’s assistants, and doctors cannot accept tips. The same rule applies to United States Postal Service workers.
For workers at grocery stores and big boxes like Target or Walmart, there might be a union order that prevents workers from accepting tips. Ask a manager or check the store’s website beforehand.
Stephanie is a reporter for Yahoo Money and Cashay, a new personal finance website. Follow her on Twitter @SJAsymkos.
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