Instacart, the fast-growing on-demand grocery delivery service, said Monday that it is offering its in-store "Personal Shoppers" in Miami, Atlanta and Washington, DC, the option to apply as part-time employees.
Instacart offered the option to its in-store shoppers in Boston and Chicago last month, and the company plans to expand the program to additional cities. Instacart’s drivers will continue to be contractors, the company said. Instacart launched its service in the Miami metro area in May, and has already expanded it to include much of north Miami-Dade County.
Instacart CEO Apoorva Mehta said most of the in-store shoppers in Boston and Chicago, who are embedded in its retail partners’ stores such as Whole Foods, elected to become part-time employees. “This model enables us to train our shoppers to improve the efficiency and quality of order picking, which makes for a better customer experience,” he said.
Instacart, now in 16 markets, has hundreds of personal shoppers in the Miami area, one of its most succesful launches to date.
Two weeks ago, Shyp, an app-enabled shipping service, said it is re-classifying its couriers from contractors to employees, making it the first on-demand company with a workforce made up entirely of employees.
Like Instacart’s Mehta, Shyp CEO Kevin Gibbon said the move was an operational decision to ensure strong customer service and allow more training. Shyp launched service in Miami late last year.
Yet, the moves by Instacart and Shyp come amid growing controversy over the classification of workers in the nascent on-demand economy, in which independent contractors deliver groceries, meals and other items to homes and businesses.
Last month, the California Labor Commission ruled that the ride-sharing giant Uber should have treated one contractor as an employee, finding the company liable for back pay and other costs. Instacart, Shyp and Postmates, as well as Uber and Lyft, are all reportedly facing legal claims from workers who allege they should be classified as employees, not contractors.
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