With the closure of bars and restaurants, workers in the foodservice industry are suffering financial losses as their jobs have been put on hold indefinitely. In the US, citizens have found a way to continuously provide income to the displaced workers—using only Google Forms and Google Sheets.

Sam Schutte, CEO of Unstoppable Software initially created a virtual tip jar for himself so he can continue paying the workers from restaurants and bars he was a regular in. The online spreadsheet simply contained the names of workers and their PayPal or Venmo information. This way, the money goes directly to the industry individuals.

Emily Gibson, a server from Los Angeles bar, also did the same after seeing virtual tip jars spreading in other areas. She also utilized Zoom, a video conferencing platform, where people “can hang out with your friends, virtually visit a city you’ve never been to, pick a person and a bar and then tip the server at that establishment” in a virtual happy hour idea.

As tips help employees make ends meet when daily wages don’t suffice, any amount is crucial especially with the current global health crisis. Jefferson City also has their own virtual tip jar, spearheaded by resident Faith Prenger. Aside from the employees from restaurants, coffee shops and bars, other service industry workers such as hairdressers and barbers are included too. Other restaurant owners are also transferring 100 percent sales from gift cards to their employees as a means to support them.

So far, no virtual tipping system has been implemented in the Philippines. But if such an initiative is carried out eventually, will it reach workers across all sectors? Will it address the immediate need of citizens who are forced to deal with unemployment at a time of crisis? More importantly, is it safe to assume that all workers have equal access to virtual platforms such as these (no matter how low-tech they may be), given that our living conditions are vastly different from the West? 

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