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Monday, June 22, 2015

Instacart to Reclassify Contractors as Part-Time Employees

Posted By on Mon, Jun 22, 2015 at 5:05 PM

  • Photo courtesy of Instacart

A week after the California Labor Commission ruled that an Uber driver is an employee not a contractor, another mainstay of the on-demand economy announced it will reclassify some of its workforce.

Instacart, a grocery shopping and home delivery service that launched in 2012, will convert some of its contractors to part-time employees. As SF Gate reports, the company has already started the process in Boston and Chicago.

Instacart CEO Apoorva Mehta said in a statement, “Grocery shopping is not easy. A Whole Foods location can have between 30,000 to 50,000 items, depending on the size of the store. It takes nuance and skill to pick the best items. What we found is that our shoppers require training and supervision, which is how you improve the quality of the picking. You can’t do that when they are independent contractors.”

While Mehta presents the decision as one motivated by customer service and quality control, it’s likely that Instacart simply wants to get in front of potential legislation mandating that on-demand contractors be classified as employees. Uber said it plans to appeal the Labor Commission ruling on the grounds that the case applied only to a single employee, not the entire network of Uber drivers.

In May, The New York Times reported that an Instacart shopper earns between $15 and $30 per hour, with most of the company’s more than 1,000 contractors being college students or middle-aged mothers enticed by flexible hours.

Although most reviews on the job site Glassdoor are positive about working for Instacart, one shopper in Chicago told Huffington Post, “It’s a really strange job, and there are many weeks where you’re just sitting in the car waiting for orders and hoping something comes in, not being paid to be there.”

The company plans to start offering part-time employment nationwide over the next few months. (In the meantime, read Julia Carrie Wong's recent SF Weekly cover story about courier app Postmates.)  

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Jeremy Lybarger


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