App-based work is critical in the fight against COVID-19

National App-Based Work Alliance Will Advocate for Solutions That Preserve Worker Independence and Access to Benefits

Written by: Ashley C.

Over the past year, we’ve all borne witness to the terrible effects of the COVID-19 pandemic: lives lost, families devastated, jobs vanished. As someone who works in the healthcare industry, I see the very worst of this pandemic up close.

Through this struggle, however, I’ve also seen the very best of people in my community. Neighbors are supporting neighbors, families are sticking together, and essential workers everywhere are going above and beyond to help others. I’m constantly inspired by people’s willingness to step up and help one another in creative ways.

For app-based workers, helping people is what they do every day. While a lot of folks stay home to do their part to prevent spreading the coronavirus, app-based workers are out there delivering meals, groceries, and medicine. They’re making it possible for our communities to get through these troubling times safely.

Last spring, I got the opportunity to experience this type of work firsthand. It was early in the pandemic, when everything was shut down tightly and we all faced an uncertain future. When I wasn’t working, I found myself sitting around the house wanting to do more to help. That’s why I signed up to shop with Instacart.

It was a perfect fit for me. I’ve always loved going shopping, so it was a fun way to fill in my free time and make a little extra money doing something I enjoy. Since work in the healthcare space can be unpredictable, I loved that independent work gave me the flexibility to earn income whenever I wanted.

Even more than that, it was an easy way to provide a little help to people in my community.

Oftentimes, I would be picking up groceries for elderly customers, and I could see how important it was for them. Since COVID-19 disproportionately impacts elderly people, avoiding a trip to the grocery store is a critical way to mitigate risk. I loved that I could provide a simple service for people that helps save lives.

While I only worked part time for Instacart for a few months to get me through an uncertain time, many do it on a regular basis, providing food and supplies to the most vulnerable, including the elderly and immunocompromised. However, so many of the essential workers that have kept our communities running throughout this pandemic don’t have access to a safety net of benefits and protections.

As we continue fighting this disease, we need to make sure all workers have access to critical protections without having to forgo the flexibility that many rely on. Portable benefits is a creative solution that would protect workers’ health and safety while letting them stay in charge of their work schedule.

During this pandemic, app-based workers have proven just how essential they are to keeping our communities safe. With portable benefits, we can give them the certainty and security they deserve.

Ashley works in healthcare and lives in Southeast Wisconsin