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Instacart to hire 250,000 more workers amid soaring demand during the coronavirus pandemic

April 23, 2020, 9:30 PM UTC

Grocery-delivery service Instacart wants to hire an additional 250,000 workers to help meet soaring demand during the coronavirus pandemic.

The company said Thursday it would add workers in the six locations with the most orders: California, Massachusetts, New York, Pennsylvania, Washington, D.C., and Toronto.

The news comes as more consumers switch to having groceries delivered to their homes to avoid being exposed to the coronavirus and having to wait in long grocery lines. Last week, Instacart said it handled five times as many orders as it had over the same period last year.

In March, in response to the rising demand, Instacart hired 300,000 additional contract shoppers, bringing its total contract workforce to more than 500,000. With the latest hiring push, Instacart’s workforce would surge to 750,000.

“Instacart has become an essential service for millions of families relying on us to help deliver their groceries and household goods in the wake of COVID-19,” Instacart CEO Apoorva Mehta said in a statement.

On Thursday, Instacart also introduced a feature in its app that asks workers daily if they’re feeling any symptoms that could be related to the coronavirus. If the workers confirm they are healthy, they can continue working. If not, they are instructed to contact their physician and are logged out of the app for the day. Workers also can now request free safety kits, which include a mask and hand sanitizer, from Instacart through the app. 

The enhanced app comes as many workers continue to voice concerns for their safety and complain that many customers are enticing them with big tips to fill their orders, only to reduce those tip amounts later.

In addition to wellness checks, Instacart said on Thursday that it’s extending a policy to provide up to 14 days of pay to employees and contract workers who are diagnosed with the virus or who are placed in mandatory isolation by authorities. The policy will now be in effect for the duration of the pandemic, instead of expiring on May 8. 

Similarly, the company said it would extend bonuses of $25 to $200 that it gives shoppers, depending on the number of hours they work, for the duration of the crisis. 

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