Seattle and Portland are the latest Instacart cities where personal shoppers can become part-time employees.
The grocery delivery company announced today that shoppers in the two Northwest cities can apply for new part-time employee roles. The decision follows similar announcements made earlier this year in seven of Instacart’s 16 cities.
Unlike Amazon Fresh, which operates its own grocery distribution facilities, Instacart employs more than 4,000 personal shoppers who hand-pick grocery items at established stores such as Whole Foods, Costco and Kroger.
These shoppers will now have the opportunity to become employees, which means more training and supervision — good for the company’s service — along with workers compensation and tax benefits, which cuts into Instacart’s revenue.
These changes follow a recent debate in the “sharing economy” over whether companies like Uber and Instacart should classify their workers as employees rather than contractors. Even presidential candidate Hilary Clinton commented on the issue, noting that she “will crack down on bosses that exploit employees by misclassifying them as contractors or even steal their wages.”
Instacart said that about 75 percent of its in-store shoppers have applied for employee positions in the seven cities where the option has been available.
The San Francisco-based company recently split the personal shopper role into two jobs, with one person shopping for items and another actually delivering the food to a customer — previously, one person did both tasks. As TechCrunch notes, Instacart is only offering the employee option to personal shoppers, not drivers.
“Those who choose to remain contractors can move into driver or combined driver/shopper roles,” Instacart noted in a press release. The company added that its employee wages exceed the local minimum wage in each of its markets.