Instacart hired 300,000 workers to meet demand for grocery deliveries, plans to hire 250,000 more


WASHINGTON,DC-APR6: Matt Gillette, a 36 year-old Instacart shopper, makes a grocery delivery in Washington, DC, April 6, 2020. For the past two years he’s been part of the gig economy, driving for Lyft, doing handiwork on TaskRabbit. The work was so unstable he’s been on the verge of homelessness, crashing with some friends and asking others to take in his beloved dog, a lab mix named Nitro.

For years there has been talk of a divided America, of an economy that’s highly beneficial to some and detrimental to others. The wrath of a highly contagious, sometimes lethal virus has shown us where, precisely, it stands: at the front door. On one side are people who have the luxury of staying safely at home, working — or not — and ordering whatever they want to be delivered. On the other side are those doing the delivering. (Photo by Evelyn Hockstein/For The Washington Post via Getty Images)

Instacart hired 300,000 workers in recent weeks to meet surging demand for grocery deliveries spurred by the pandemic. Now, the startup is seeking to hire another 250,000 workers over the next two months.

The on-demand grocery delivery company said Thursday that it is seeking to hire the additional “full-service shoppers,” who are treated as independent contractors, in areas with the highest demand with the aim to “get back to same-day delivery.” Some customers have struggled in recent weeks to secure delivery slots due to the high demand.

Instacart is among a small group of companies, including Amazon and Walmart, that are rapidly expanding when much of the American economy is at risk of contracting. Before the hiring spree, Instacart had about 200,000 full-service shoppers.

In a blog post, Instacart said it will reintroduce a waitlist for applicants in areas where it has enough workers to satisfy demand to ensure it is “thoughtfully balancing” how many workers it brings on.

Along with the surge in business, the company has faced criticism from some workers who say the company hasn’t done enough to protect and compensate themduring the public health crisis. Late last month, some began protesting the company, calling for a number of changes, including a form of hazard pay or an extra $5 per order, as well as a default tip of 10%.

In recent weeks, the company has made “safety kits,” which include a face mask and hand sanitizer, available for its workers to order. Instacart said Thursday it will soon have an in-app wellness check for workers to help determine if they have any coronavirus-related symptoms.

Other workers have complained that some customers are tacking on big tips to have their orders prioritized during the pandemic, then changing them to zero after a delivery is made. An Instacart spokesperson previously told CNN Business the vast majority of people last month adjusted their tip upward or did not adjust their tip after delivery.

The company said Thursday it will extend its coronavirus financial assistance of up to 14 days of pay for workers diagnosed with the virus or placed into individual mandatory quarantine through the remainder of the pandemic.

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