Instacart, the popular grocery delivery service, has become a popular alternative for shoppers who prefer to avoid grocery stores during the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. However, there has been much debate and confusion surrounding the employment status of Instacart shoppers. Are they employees or contractors? Let’s dive into the details.

First, let’s define the difference between the two. An employee is hired by a company to provide a service, and usually works under the company’s supervision and direction. A contractor, on the other hand, is hired to provide a specific service and is considered self-employed. They work independently and are responsible for their own taxes and expenses.

In the case of Instacart, shoppers are classified as independent contractors. This means that they are not considered employees of the company, and do not receive benefits such as health insurance, paid time off, or workers’ compensation. Instead, they are responsible for their own expenses including gas, car maintenance, and other related costs.

As independent contractors, Instacart shoppers have more flexibility in terms of when and how much they work. They are able to choose their own hours, and can work as much or as little as they want. However, this also means that they do not have the same legal protections as employees. This includes protection from discrimination, harassment, and wrongful termination.

There has been some controversy surrounding the classification of Instacart shoppers as independent contractors. Some argue that they should be classified as employees, as they are required to follow certain guidelines and cannot work for other delivery services while working for Instacart. In fact, several lawsuits have been filed by Instacart shoppers seeking employee status and the benefits that come with it.

In response to these lawsuits and public pressure, Instacart has made some changes to their policies. In 2019, they introduced a new feature called “quality bonuses” which provides additional pay to shoppers who consistently receive positive feedback from customers. They have also offered some additional benefits such as accident insurance, but these are only available to shoppers in certain states.

In conclusion, Instacart shoppers are currently classified as independent contractors. While this gives them more flexibility in terms of when and how much they work, it also means that they do not receive the same legal protections and benefits as employees. Whether or not they should be classified as employees is an ongoing debate, and it remains to be seen how this issue will be resolved.