Dec 20, 2020 - Economy

Instacart is latest gig company to request early vaccines for workers

Illustration of a waiting ticket with the number 19 on it and a symbol of a syringe. 

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

Instacart has asked public health authorities to include its workers as part of the essential workers who'll get COVID-19 vaccines, according to letters it provided to Axios. Uber, Lyft and DoorDash have made similar requests in recent days.

Why it matters: These workers are disproportionately bearing more exposure and risk than many of their customers, who have the luxury of staying home and having their groceries and food delivered.

Yes, but: The companies have actively fought not to classify their workers as employees, which would give them full benefits, such as health care coverage and sick leave.

  • The companies have provided workers with some safety supplies throughout the pandemic and limited pay if they get sick with the virus, but workers have complained of problems in accessing these resources.
  • Instacart is sending letters to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention as well as all 50 governors.

Between the lines: Getting their workers vaccinated earlier rather than later could help the companies' bottom lines if more drivers feel comfortable giving rides and doing deliveries, and if it makes ride-hailing passengers more comfortable booking rides.

The bottom line: It remains to be seen what the states, which are in charge of doling out the vaccines, will do and how they would provide shots to gig workers given that many of them don't work a set number of hours and they often work for multiple companies.

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