Instacart STILL Isn’t Protecting Their Shopper Community

On Thursday, Instacart published a new Medium post entitled “Continued Support for the Shopper Community”.

Once again, this was nothing more than an attempt at fixing their PR disaster while doing absolutely nothing to protect the Shopper Community. We have continuously outlined, based on the advice given by officials, what Shoppers need to stay safe during this outbreak, and Instacart is ignoring it. Most workers STILL haven’t been able to order, let alone receive, proper PPE. Furthermore, the small fraction of Shoppers who actually have received their kits are mortified — the mask is completely see-through and thin, the “thermometers” are actually a single-use, disposable, notoriously inaccurate plastic strip, and many bottles of hand sanitizer spray, leaked or opened in transit.

Instacart also said yesterday that In-Store Shoppers (which account for less than 3% of Instacart’s workforce) can receive a $25 — $200 a month bonus. That’s a range of less than $1 a day and $7 a day, and clearly not enough. Bonuses are not hazard pay, and all Shoppers need hazard pay immediately. Instacart’s average batch pay is a meager $7, which can include shopping and delivery of up to three separate orders. Batch pay was insultingly low even before the pandemic but is especially egregious considering the risks we currently face. Instacart has also failed to universally raise the default amount of the in-app tip, and instead implemented a bizarre new system which causes, in many cases, default tips set to less than the prior, unreasonable 5%. Instacart’s default tip amounts condition customers to tip less and less, and 5% is well below the industry standard of 15% which UberEats, GrubHub, and DoorDash all default to.

They also say they’re extending their previous eligibility deadline for their COVID-19 sick pay policy from May 8 through when the pandemic ends. As Shoppers have stated over and over, extending the deadline is meaningless when we cannot access the pay in the first place. Shoppers who can afford to see a doctor and who are able to obtain an appointment are often unable to actually get tested. And in the unlikely event they do get tested, it can take up to 14 days to receive the results. All the while, Shoppers cannot work and are typically placed in quarantine by their doctors. Even with documentation from medical professionals, Instacart is denying Shoppers COVID-19 pay, demanding elusive documentation from a public health official instead. Instacart’s COVID-19 pay policy is purposefully designed to make it practically impossible for the most vulnerable to ever receive their deserved payment.

Also, Instacart will soon prompt Shoppers with a so-called “health screening” performed in the app. Shoppers who fail this screening will be “temporarily” deactivated and instructed to seek out medical care. This is a trap: Instacart knows damn well that many of its Shoppers have no access to health care, or can’t afford to utilize health care they may have. Shoppers also have no meaningful access to sick pay, which means that those who aren’t feeling well will have to seek out unaffordable medical care, or alternatively, not answer the screening honestly. This means that workers who should stay home will instead be out working because they can’t afford to take time off without compensation. This screening is yet another “feel good” PR measure that Instacart can claim it has implemented while functionally doing absolutely nothing to protect Shoppers, customers, and our communities. To ensure safety, Instacart must start actually paying Shoppers that should be eligible for COVID-19 pay to stay home and isolate.

They further announced that they’ll be bringing on an additional 250,000 new Shoppers, in addition to the 300,000 they just brought on. They also indicated that they’re only providing “tens of thousands” of PPE kits a week. At this rate it would take them a full year to distribute their inadequate PPE to their workforce. The current workforce isn’t even properly protected, and the new workforce they say they intend to bring on will likely grow faster than they can send PPE. But they know that out-of-work people will do a lot when they’re desperate for income. This is reckless, and absolutely increases the risk of spreading the virus to more Shoppers and customers.

A company like Instacart should be providing their entire current and future workforce with proper PPE, hazard pay, and COVID-19 sick pay before bringing on new hires. Instead, they are preparing to hire replacements for when the most vulnerable among us get sick and can’t get treated. We’re now months into this global health crisis and in watching Instacart’s inconsistent and inadequate response, there’s only one conclusion to be made: In the most literal possible terms, Instacart has decided they would rather let us die than to protect us properly, because one of Apoorva Mehta’s spreadsheets has calculated that it’s cheaper that way.