‘It’s so in demand right now’: Why gig workers are advertising their fully vaccinated Covid-19 status
A typical babysitter’s profile on UrbanSitter includes the member’s availability, relevant experience and whether they’re CPR-trained. Now, add Covid-19 vaccinated and boosted to that list of valued qualifications.
Members that do tend to get hired more often — and in some cases, higher pay.
Since vaccines became readily available last winter, gig workers across platforms like Wag, TaskRabbit and UrbanSitter are advertising their vaccines and boosters as a way to edge out their unvaccinated competition. They’re a hot commodity on these platforms since the babysitters, dog walkers, housekeepers and handymen who find jobs on them are in clients’ homes interacting with the people they’re working for.
“Parents are looking for vaccinated care providers, and they’re willing to pay more for them,” said Lynn Perkins, UrbanSitter’s CEO. “We shared that data back with our care providers via emails. If I was a care provider, and I saw this data, I would be marketing my vaccination status all day long. I would do whatever I could to promote that, because it’s so in-demand right now.”
As Perkins said, vaccinated babysitters often earn more money. They make $2 more per hour than their unvaccinated counterparts and get 43% more jobs, according to booking data collected in the last three months by UrbanSitter.
UrbanSitter added the vaccine icon, an indication an applicant is willing to provide vaccine proof, to their list last spring. (Others include background checks and the average amount of time they take to respond to messages.)
The company is considering adding one for the job posters too, since 42% of members will not work for families that refuse to get vaccinated, according to a survey of 700 sitters, which it conducted in December.
Most platforms aren’t formalizing a vaccine status icon. Wag, the site for dog walkers and pet sitters, came closest, with a ‘socially distant pet carer’ badge. It’s an indication that a pet caregiver completed a short information session on CDC recommendations for how to remain safe when walking and caring for someone else’s pet.
And in an hustle play, members are using it as a marketing tool. Dog walker Lauren Tullos started displaying her vaccine status prominently last May after receiving both doses. She included a starred line in her Wag profile that reads, ‘I am vaccinated and wear a mask while indoors.’ Tullos, of Austin, Tx., also has the ‘socially distant pet carer’ badge.
“These are crazy times,” she said. “I never considered that getting a vaccine would be something people would want to know about and could even grow my business.”
TaskRabbit, the platform for errands and odd jobs, also noticed an uptick in ‘taskers’ who prominently display that they’re vaccinated in their profile, but doesn’t offer a formal status icon.
“We’ve heard that many clients find this information valuable when selecting a Tasker,” said a TaskRabbit spokesperson. “We don’t track whether or not they have included their vaccination status, nor the impact its inclusion may have on client decision-making.”
Still, many gig workers won’t accept jobs from members who aren’t vaccinated. Maya Waldman, who has been a babysitter on UrbanSitter for more than four years as she finishes her doctorate in education, always asks in the first conversation whether every eligible member of a household is vaccinated.
“I make it very clear in my profile that I’m vaccinated and boosted,” said Waldman, who lives in San Francisco, California. “I always make sure to say, ‘It would be a pleasure to work for your family. Please see my profile and in it you can see that I’m fully vaccinated.’”
She’s learned that line is a conversation starter that opens the door for her to find out if a family is vaccinated.
Many platforms likely aren’t formalizing the option to list vaccination status because they don’t want to step into what can sometimes be a heated debate. Perkins said that when they first rolled out the vaccine icon, a handful of nannies took to social media accusing them of harming their livelihood.
“We have lots of optional badges on our site,” she said. “You can say that you’re CPR-certified or that you speak Spanish. This is just one more thing. For the most part, parents and care providers were really appreciative because it starts the dialogue between parent and caregiver. We want to make it as easy as possible.”