National App-Based Work Alliance Will Advocate for Solutions That Preserve Worker Independence and Access to Benefits
Written By: Jenora Armstrong
Like so many Americans, I work day in and day out to make sure my loved ones are supported. In addition to taking care of two young kids and running my own makeup business, I’ve recently taken on more responsibility by providing care to my 87-year-old grandmother.
When I got furloughed from my full-time job and my makeup business slowed down because of the pandemic, I needed to find a way to earn while having time to focus on my responsibilities to my family. After weighing different work options, I heard about the flexibility of shopping with Instacart and knew I had to give it a try.
Shopping with Instacart clicked with me immediately because I love helping people. Whether someone is elderly and can’t get to the store or doesn’t have access to a vehicle, I take pride in playing a part to help them get through their day. Even taking small extra steps like making sure my elderly customers can easily reach their groceries from their door lets me help my community in new and unexpected ways.
During a time where nearly 2.5 million women like me have lost their jobs due to the pandemic, app-based work has been an amazing opportunity to provide for ourselves and our families. Women represent 70 percent of Instacart shoppers, and I’m proud to be one of those women who have experienced the benefits of independent work.
What I value the most with Instacart is the incredible flexibility. Because I don’t have a set schedule and can decide where and when I want to work, I have time to take care of my kids and provide my grandmother with the best care possible. If she has an emergency, I can be there at the drop of a hat.
Unfortunately, the flexibility that so many app-based workers count on could soon be taken away. The House of Representatives recently passed the PRO Act, legislation which contains a strict standard that could force many independent workers like me to become employees with fixed, rigid work schedules. It’s a lot like Assembly Bill 5 (AB 5) in California, which resulted in many independent workers losing their access to flexible work.
If the PRO Act passes the Senate, both my family and I will feel the same effects workers in California felt with AB 5. If I am classified as an employee, I will no longer have the flexible schedule I love. I won’t be able to be there for my kids and grandmother in the same way I am now.
Women in the workforce have already experienced enough uncertainty and job loss this past year. Now is not the time to jeopardize the flexibility and independence many of us rely on. I hope that lawmakers will listen to what independent workers really want, and realize that the PRO Act is not the answer.
Jenora lives in Houston, Texas and shops for Instacart.