Independent Work Lets Me Earn and Be There For My Kids. The PRO Act Puts That At Risk

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

Written By: Vanessa W.

If there’s anything we’ve learned this past year, it’s that virtual schooling is tough – not just for kids, but parents too. I have five kids, with 3 of them in virtual school at home, and the past year has brought plenty of new challenges. But it’s also brought incredible new joys. Not only have I been able to spend more time with my kids than ever before, but I also got the extra push I needed to start app-based work.

Several years ago, I went on an “abundance journey,” which is a 21-day trip where I learned techniques for how to create abundance and joy in every aspect of my life. I downloaded Instacart because I thought it would be a great way for me to help create abundance in my financial life. However, life got in the way and I put it on hold.

Once the pandemic started, everything changed. We needed extra money, but with my kids at home doing virtual school I needed some additional work beyond my personal home care work, and it had to be flexible. Though my older kids can look after the little ones when I take some time to make deliveries, as a mother I still need the ability to come home and take care of them whenever they need me.

I opened my phone and I saw the Instacart app was still there. I signed up.

The freedom and flexibility of app-based work is perfect for me and my family. I can make some deliveries in the morning, come home and make lunch for the kids, then head back out and deliver some more. The extra income I earn takes away a lot of the financial stress we used to have.

But that’s only one part of it. Through shopping with Instacart, I’ve been able to connect with my community in ways I never could in a 9-5 job. I can meet new people and explore new areas of my city. I can help people who really need it, particularly these days when so many are vulnerable. When I’m delivering groceries to my community, I feel like more than anything I’m helping others – and that’s given me more joy than I ever would have expected.

I remember when I used to work 10-hour shifts at a traditional job. I would miss birthdays, holidays, and weekends, and my life really revolved around work. With app-based work, it’s the exact opposite: I find more enjoyment in life. It’s helping me fulfill my abundance journey.

All of that could be at risk, though, if the Senate passes the PRO Act. Its narrow definition for independent work means that many people like me who have turned to app-based work would lose our flexibility, and be forced to become employees. This almost happened already in California with Assembly Bill 5, which is nearly identical to many parts of the PRO Act. Independent workers don’t want to be forced into set schedules, we want to keep our flexibility and earn income on our own schedule

I know one day - hopefully soon - the pandemic will end and my kids will go back to school in person. But even after that happens, I will still deliver for my community because of the freedom, peace of mind, and connection to my community it gives me.

I hope other people that need flexible work schedules will take the leap like I did and consider app-based work. And I hope lawmakers will make it a priority to push back on any proposals like the PRO Act that threaten flexible work opportunities in order to ensure they remain an option for people like me in the future.

Vanessa W. lives in Wisconsin