Instacart announced new work and safety measures for its gig workforce, also known as Instacart shoppers. The announcement comes on the eve of what could be a nationwide strike of its Shoppers, who are protesting conditions they are working under during this coronavirus outbreak.
The nationwide strike was called for last week by Vanessa Bain, an Instacart Shopper in response to what she said was a lack of safety precautions the company was providing, a lack of hazard pay for the Shoppers (who are braving public interactions during this time of shelter-in-place), as well as pay for workers afflicted with or isolated by COVID-19.
On Friday, Instacart announced a number of new initiatives for its Shoppers, most of which addressed issues around pay, but did not address concerns around hygiene and physical safety. Bain, however, was not swayed by Instacart’s new moves and still called for the nationwide to happen tomorrow, Monday, March 30.
Today, Instacart announced even more new measures for its gig workers, including addressing issues around safety. Instacart, for instance, is getting into the hand sanitizer business, writing:
…Instacart worked with a third-party to manufacture its own hand sanitizer for Instacart shoppers to overcome the existing inventory delays and global supply chain scarcity, without taking away resources from healthcare workers. The product is a liquid spray ethyl alcohol-based hand sanitizer, which will ship in the next week. The independently-developed hand sanitizer that Instacart is providing meets CDC guidance for alcohol-based hand sanitizer and can be used when soap and water are not readily available.
Instacart is also revising its tip policy:
Beginning today, all existing customers’ completed orders will now default to the customer’s last tip amount, instead of the previous 5% tip default setting. The new customer tip default feature leverages order recollection technology, which remembers a customer’s previous tip and automatically sets it as their new default tip for all future orders. For example, if a customer tips 15% to their shopper for great service, their next Instacart order will automatically default to a 15% tip as well, versus defaulting back to the previous 5% default tip. Instacart is also removing the “none” option in the customer tip settings, requiring customers to manually change their tip to $0 if desired and making it less likely that a customer will remove the shopper tip altogether. Additionally, if a customer lowers the tip below 5%, the default will reset to 5% to ensure shoppers continue to have a baseline tip amount.
Will these new steps be enough? We reached out to Bain to see if Instacart’s moves will be enough to avert the strike. With grocery delivery thrust into the spotlight and suddenly more important than ever, it’s in everyone’s best interests (Instacart, it’s gig workers on the front lines of this pandemic, and customers) to keep things rolling.
UPDATE: In a Medium post, Bain has called these new measure “a sick joke” and says that the strike is still on.
We will be following this developing story.