Contractor shoppers in all Instacart cities can apply for employee positions

Instacart, one of the first on-demand tech companies to convert some of its contractors to employees, is now offering the employee option in all 16 U.S. cities in which it operates.

The move by San Francisco-based Instacart, which delivers groceries hand-picked by shoppers at partner stores in as little as an hour, applies to its in-store shoppers. The company is touting the change as a way to offer improved customer service because its shoppers will be trained and supervised.

“This has been a great change for Instacart,” said Apoorva Mehta, the company’s founder and CEO, in a press release. “By making in-store shoppers employees, we’ve been able to train them and have more control over operations.”

Instacart began the worker reclassifications in some cities in June, and has since hired more than 1,000 part-time workers across the country, it says. A couple of weeks ago, the company extended the employee option to shoppers in Portland and Seattle. The company says the option will be available to shoppers from now on, and to wherever Instacart expands. The employees contribute to Social Security and Medicare, and are eligible for worker’s compensation and unemployment insurance.

Drivers and shopper/drivers can remain contractors.

The Instacart news comes on the heels of the goings-on at Zirtual, the on-demand virtual-assistant startup. The San Francisco company shut down last week, with its CEO blaming the costs of converting its contractors to employees. It then reopened after being rescued by one of its clients, Mike Murphy wrote. It is now facing a lawsuit over not giving employees enough notice that they were losing their jobs, Michelle Quinn wrote.

Also, San Francisco on-demand cleaning startup Homejoy closed its doors last month after being targeted by a lawsuit over its classification of workers.

And of course, on-demand ride-booking apps Uber and Lyft have been grappling with the worker-classification/gig economy issue — an issue that has caught the attention of labor regulators and politicians such as presidential candidate Hillary Clinton.

 

Photo: Instacart founder and CEO Apoorva Mehta in the company’s offices in San Francisco on Nov. 15, 2013. (Laura A. Oda/Bay Area News Group)

 

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