Despite tipping policy changes, DoorDash says back pay is not ‘at issue here’

When DoorDash announced changes in its tipping model last month, it was certainly a step in the right direction. Some workers, however, have said it’s not enough. In addition to wanting fair wages, they want back pay.

In light of DoorDash’s announcement, labor group Working Washington said a key question remained: “Will they pay workers backpay for the customer tips the company has been misappropriating since 2017?”

“There’s no ‘back pay’ at issue here because every cent of every tip on DoorDash has always gone and will always go to Dashers,” a DoorDash spokesperson told TechCrunch via email in response to a question about whether or not DoorDash would back pay its delivery workers.

When Instacart changed its tipping practices earlier this year, it also retroactively compensated shoppers when tips were included in the payment minimums. DoorDash, however, does not see the need for back pay.

“An independent third-party research firm has confirmed that Dashers were paid as was explained on our website and in our app: Dashers received a minimum base bay from DoorDash, plus 100% of customer tips, plus additional pay for some orders to reach the guaranteed minimum,” the spokesperson said. “A reminder that under our old model, DoorDash would boost pay if a customer left little or no tip. Although boost pay was intended to help Dashers, we recognize that it also had the unintended effect of making some customers feel like their tips didn’t matter. Under our new model, every dollar a customer tips will be an extra dollar in their Dasher’s pocket.”

Additionally, DoorDash says it will increase the amount it pays on average through base pay and bonuses. Ideally, that will increase overall earnings for Dashers.

“This commitment is incredibly important to us, which is why we’ll be working with that same independent third party to ensure that Dasher earnings under this new model increase,” the spokesperson said.

As DoorDash previously announced, the new payment policies will go into effect this month following feedback from its tests. Since the announcement, however, DoorDash has put $30 million toward a campaign committee to establish a 2020 ballot initiative that would enable companies to provide workers benefits, establish wage commitments and guarantees, offer flexibility and establish that drivers are not employees. Lyft and Uber have also each put $30 million into the initiative. Meanwhile, gig worker protections bill AB-5 passed.

AB-5 would help to ensure gig economy workers are entitled to minimum wage, workers’ compensation and other benefits by requiring employers to apply the ABC test. The bill, first introduced in December 2018, aims to codify the ruling established in Dynamex Operations West, Inc. v Superior Court of Los Angeles. In that case, the court applied the ABC test and decided Dynamex wrongfully classified its workers as independent contractors.

According to the ABC test, in order for a hiring entity to legally classify a worker as an independent contractor, it must prove the worker is free from the control and direction of the hiring entity, performs work outside the scope of the entity’s business and is regularly engaged in an “independently established trade, occupation, or business of the same nature as the work performed.”

The bill has yet to be signed into law, but Governor Gavin Newsom is expected to do so. Moving forward, we can surely expect DoorDash to continue advocating for its independent worker model. We also can expect organizers from Working Washington to keep advocating for better wages and protections.