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A New Guide to Tipping in the Gig Economy

From Uber drivers to Airbnb hosts to TaskRabbits, there are more tricky tipping situations than ever. We talked with etiquette experts about the proper protocol.

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Illustration: Claire Merchlinsky

Few social situations puzzle even the most mannered etiquette experts so much as deciding how much and when to tip, especially in the U.S., where it’s not always optional and workers can be paid below minimum wage if they’re also receiving tips.   

The history of rewarding good service with additional money is murky, but it most likely originated in Europe, possibly in medieval times, when a serf would receive a tip from his lord for performing well. This practice gained popularity in 17th century England among the upper classes and then spread to the U.S. after the Civil War, when wealthy Americans began traveling to Europe more regularly.