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- A DoorDash delivery driver had her car stolen with her infant twins inside.
- DoorDash allows children to be in the car while deliveries are made.
- Gig workers often bring their children on jobs because childcare costs are prohibitive.
A DoorDash delivery worker had her car stolen with her twin babies inside earlier this week in Ohio. The children were eventually found, but the frightening incident highlighted a reality for many gig workers — their kids come with them on deliveries.
The flexibility of delivery work for companies like DoorDash, Uber Eats, or Instacart can be appealing to parents. But the unpredictable income from gig work can make paying for childcare while out on deliveries uneconomical.
“Most independent workers who are doing this work are at the low end of the pay spectrum, which makes childcare so expensive,” Lindsey Cameron, a professor of management at Wharton business school who studies the gig economy, told Insider. She noted that gig workers often bring their children on jobs because childcare costs are prohibitive.
DoorDash says drivers earn about $25 an hour. The rate can fluctuate based on demand and does not include gas or wear on drivers’ cars. Meanwhile, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the average childcare worker makes about $13 an hour.
It is not uncommon for delivery drivers to bring children along for deliveries, and it is allowed under DoorDash’s guidelines.
On Reddit forums discussing the practice, most drivers have neutral or positive experiences while delivering with their children. Some drivers note the quality time they spend with their children and how they enjoy teaching their children about work. Others note that their typical hourly rate wouldn’t cover childcare costs.
A DoorDash spokesperson told Insider: “Some working parents choose to dash with their children because it is a flexible, convenient way to earn supplemental income.” DoorDash allows minors on delivery rides, but the company’s insurance only covers Dashers on deliveries. The spokesperson noted: “if you are picking an order up from a merchant or delivering an order to a customer, you must have a Dasher account. This means kids are not allowed to pick up or drop off orders.”
Uber doesn’t allow drivers to bring along other passengers while they’re transporting customers or making deliveries for Uber Eats, according to their community guidelines. An Instacart spokesperson said, “Shoppers may not bring anyone along (including minors) who does not have an Instacart Shopper account while providing services on the platform.” Instacart noted that it offers shoppers discounted backup care through Care.com.
The practice of bringing a child along for a delivery rarely makes headlines unless the unthinkable happens.
Last year, a DoorDash delivery driver in Georgia had her car stolen with her 1-year-old daughter inside. The baby was found on the porch of a nearby home. In San Francisco, a DoorDash driver’s car was also stolen with his children inside last year. His children were found safe, but the delivery worker, Jeffrey Fang, was criticized for having his kids in the car.
“I will take ownership of the fact that I had kids with me, and that’s a risk, but I’m not doing it out of willingness. It is more of lack of choice — some might say desperation — and in some ways, it was,” Fang, CNN Business, at the time.
Incidents like these highlight that the gig economy has created a “whole new class of workers who are in precarious situations,” said Cameron.
But there could be ways to minimize the risk for delivery drivers and their children, should they need to bring them along, she said. For example, she said, as these companies give drivers more control over deliveries they accept, they could allow drivers to accept only orders where customers come to the car to pick up orders. A small step like that would certainly be easier than overhauling America’s expensive childcare system, she said.