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Are Instacart Shoppers Independent Contractors

Instacart has quickly become one of the most popular grocery delivery services in the United States. However, there has been some confusion and controversy surrounding the status of Instacart shoppers. Are they considered independent contractors or employees? This is an important question, as it affects the rights and benefits of Instacart shoppers, as well as the legal and financial obligations of the company.

To answer this question, it’s important to first understand the difference between employees and independent contractors. Employees are workers who are under the control and supervision of their employer. They are typically entitled to certain benefits and protections, such as minimum wage, overtime pay, workers’ compensation, and unemployment insurance. Employers are also responsible for paying payroll taxes and providing benefits such as health insurance and retirement plans.

On the other hand, independent contractors are self-employed individuals who work for themselves and are not under the control or supervision of any one employer. They are responsible for paying their own taxes, providing their own benefits, and obtaining their own insurance. Independent contractors have more flexibility in their work arrangements, but they also have fewer legal protections and benefits.

So, are Instacart shoppers employees or independent contractors? The answer is not straightforward. In 2015, a group of Instacart shoppers filed a class-action lawsuit, claiming that they were misclassified as independent contractors and should be considered employees. In 2018, Instacart settled the lawsuit for $4.6 million, but did not admit any wrongdoing or change the classification of its shoppers.

Since then, there have been several other lawsuits and legal challenges related to the status of Instacart shoppers, as well as other gig economy workers. The legal landscape around worker classification is complex and evolving, with different standards and tests used by different federal and state agencies and courts.

Some argue that Instacart shoppers should be considered employees because they are subject to significant control and supervision by the company. For example, Instacart sets the prices and terms of service, provides shoppers with training and tools, and monitors their performance through a rating system. Instacart also expects shoppers to follow certain rules, such as wearing a uniform and using an insulated bag for cold items.

Others argue that Instacart shoppers are independent contractors because they have a high degree of flexibility and autonomy in their work. Shoppers can choose when, where, and how much they want to work, and they are not required to accept any particular job or order. Shoppers also use their own vehicles, phones, and other equipment to perform their work.

Ultimately, the determination of whether Instacart shoppers are employees or independent contractors depends on a variety of factors, including the degree of control exerted by the company, the level of skill and independence required by the job, and the economic reality of the working relationship. As the legal and regulatory landscape continues to evolve, it’s important for Instacart shoppers and other gig workers to stay informed about their rights and benefits, and for companies to ensure that they are complying with applicable laws and regulations.