Gig-Economy Suffers Setback

In the face of a global pandemic, millions of consumers are turning to alternative methods for receiving groceries and other products. As over 75% of Americans are under shelter-in-place orders, services such as Instacart, Amazon and Whole Foods have been essential resources as we adhere to social distancing.  On Monday, workers at these companies expressed actions they are taking this week which include conducted walkouts, strikes and sickouts to demand hazard pay and other safety protections that are not currently afforded to them. 

The protests of existing workers come as both Instacart and Amazon announced plans to hire tens of thousands of new workers.  The current workforce of these companies believes that not everything is being done to protect them from exposure of COVID-19 and are asking for changes that include:

-Workers from both Amazon and Instacart want more access to paid sick time off. At this time, it’s available only to those who have tested positive for COVID-19 or get placed on mandatory self-quarantine.

-Amazon workers want their warehouse to be closed for a longer cleaning, with guaranteed pay.

-Instacart’s grocery delivery gig workers are asking for disinfectant wipes and hand sanitizer and better pay to offset the risk they are taking.


This morning Instacart issued an email to its customers and shoppers’ improvements they are making. In support of the health and safety of their shoppers and to make sure they are being compensated for their efforts during this time, Instacart is implementing the following.

  1. Safety supplies for their shoppers, in store shoppers currently have access to sanitation stations and cleaning supplies, however since there is a significant shortage in items such as hand sanitizer, they have plans to produce their own with a third party. This is readily available to shoppers as of today.
  2. Offering competitive wages to their shoppers. Earnings have increased by 40% over the last few weeks and shopper satisfaction is the best it has ever been. Instacart has plans to offer more flexible earnings to their shoppers. They also announced that they plan to hire 300,000 more shoppers over the next three months.
  3. Extended sick pay for COVID-19 shoppers. Instacart is providing 14 days extended sick pay for their shoppers that are diagnosed with COVID-19. They also are offering sick pay for part-time shoppers.

Even though some of the concerns were addressed by Instacart and Amazon. What is the likelihood these companies will provide meaningful benefits to their employees? The request for hazard pay was not addressed and sick pay for people with underlying health conditions. It sounds like the strike is still on.

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