New York City has taken the first steps to require Uber to add a tipping feature to its app.
The Taxi and Limousine Commission announced a proposal Monday that would require car services like Uber that accept only credit or debit cards for payment to add a way for passengers to tip using a card.
The TLC will propose the rule by July, then there will be a public hearing before the commission’s board votes on it. However, if the proposal becomes a rule and Uber is required to add the feature, other cities might demand the same from Uber.
The ride-hailing service Lyft also operates in New York City, but it wouldn’t be affected because it already offers a tipping feature within its app.
Uber has said that it doesn’t allow tipping because tips could create bias among riders and drivers and could lead to drivers spending most of their time in wealthier neighborhoods where fares are likely to be higher.
In a statement, Uber said it had not yet seen the proposal but looked forward to reviewing it.
“Uber is always striving to offer the best earning opportunity for drivers, and we are constantly working to improve the driver experience,” it said. “That’s why, in New York City, we partnered with the Machinists Union to make sure current and future Uber NYC drivers have a stronger voice and launched a series of new tools and support policies for drivers.”
The push to add the tipping option in New York City stemmed from a petition organized by the Independent Drivers Guild that received more than 11,000 signatures.
The guild said in a press statement that a tipping feature would mean an extra $300 million a year for New York City drivers.
“Drivers have long been denied access to the kinds of benefits and labor protections many workers take for granted, such as paid sick leave or the minimum wage,” Jim Conigliaro Jr., a founder of the IDG, said in a statement. “As a result, New York City’s professional drivers have traditionally depended on gratuities for a substantial portion of their income. Cuts to driver pay across the ride-hail industry has made tipping income more important than ever.
“The exploitation of ride-hail drivers must end, and this is an important first step.”