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With no benefits, San Antonio gig workers struggle to make a living, avoid coronavirus



You wake up with a scratchy throat and a tight chest, but otherwise you feel OK.

It’s most likely not COVID-19, but you know you should stay home, just in case.

But what if you can’t stay home and still pay the bills?

“I’ve been that way for the past week — with just a cough. And maybe it’s just a cold or allergies. It could be, but the fact is that I’m out there, I’m shopping for people’s items,” said one San Antonio Instacart shopper who asked to remain anonymous. “I need to make money, and I’m going to put that aside.”

With many San Antonians hunkered down, complying the city’s restrictive stay-at-home orders, gig workers are on overdrive trying to meet the flood of restaurant deliveries and grocery store shopping orders.

Those grocery shoppers and delivery drivers receive virtually no benefits, and each day face an elevated risk of contracting the virus.

The more one works to meet the demand, the greater the risk of getting sick. And with no sick leave, workers said they’ve had to choose between their livelihood and the public’s health and their own.

“I’m trying to decide if I want to continue to work as hard because I know that every time I set foot in a grocery store, I’m increasing the likelihood that I will get sick,” said one Shipt shopper who also requested anonymity so her Shipt account would not be deactivated. “If I get sick, I’m not going to be covered, and nobody is paying my bills.”

The pandemic has shown the absence of a safety net for gig workers, and has brought renewed public scrutiny to the technology-enabled gig economy, in which companies such as Uber, Shipt, Instacart, Lyft and others classify workers as independent contractors rather than employees.

That classification gives gig workers a greater degree of flexibility than most other workers, who can set their own work schedules. But it also means companies are largely able to avoid offering unemployment, health care or sick pay to workers.

“Corporations have long made the case that the nature of work is changing — people want flexibility in the 21st century economy,” said Brian Chen, a staff attorney with the National Employment Law Project and an advocate for gig workers. “But then you see these very low-paid individuals working through a pandemic just to pay the bills, and that shows you the reality of how much flexibility these workers have.

“This COVID pandemic has shown we have an entire group of workers who have no rights under our labor laws,” he said.

Over the last month, companies such as Instacart and Shipt have touted the protections and benefits they’re providing to workers during the crisis. The companies agreed to ease rules around grocery delivery time frames, made it easier for shoppers to pay and are waiving poor customer reviews.

The companies also said they’ll be providing workers with hand sanitizer and cleaning products in coming weeks.

“Our teams are working around the clock to safely serve all members of our community, and we’re incredibly grateful for Instacart shoppers like you who have stepped up as household heroes during this time,” Instacart CEO Apoorva Mehta said in a note to workers late last month.

Along with Uber and Lyft, the companies also offered 14 days of paid sick time off for workers who test positive for COVID-19, though testing capacity is still limited in San Antonio and across the nation.

“It still seems like a joke,” said the Instacart shopper. “It’s already really difficult to get a test. Just because you have coronavirus doesn’t mean you’re going to get a test. It seems like it was a fake thing for Instacart to put up and say, ‘Oh, we’re doing this.’ But here’s all the fine print. It made a lot of people who didn’t read into it feel better.”

In separate interviews, four San Antonio gig workers all said they willingly take on the day-to-day risks of their work — that is, frequent contact with strangers. They said they’re committed to helping vulnerable people during the pandemic.

Many gig grocery shoppers work exclusively with clients wuth whom they’ve built a rapport. The majority of customers on Instacart and Shipt are elderly or people with weakened immune systems particularly at threat from the virus, shoppers said.

“When we all initially got into gig work, we got into it for a financial reason,” said a second Instacart shopper, who is also a health care worker and a nighttime Uber driver. “You need to close a gap in income. You need to pay for an extra class for college. You have unforeseen medical expenses. But when coronavirus hit, that reason changed for a lot of people.

“There is a bit of fear involved with me going out and going shopping, being in public when we’re told we shouldn’t be,” she said. “However, what would these people do if I didn’t do it?”

Several gig workers also said they enjoy the benefits of the flexible, informal nature of the work they do.

“It’s easy to pick up on, and you don’t have to register or fill out a lot of documentation,” the first Instacart shopper said. “You just open the app and get started. With the way we’re independent contractors, it would absolutely be nice if we have some benefit of health insurance. But the price you pay is you have such flexibility. ‘I’ve got an hour to kill? Maybe I can pick something up.’”

These days, the average gig grocery shopper in San Antonio starts their day at about 7 a.m. waiting in line outside of an H-E-B. After the hour-long wait for the store to open, shoppers dash inside — first to the cleaning supplies aisle, then a race to find any leftover perishable goods, such as ground beef.

Rideshare drivers have complained of a sharp drop in ridership recently, but shoppers said demand has skyrocketed for them in recent weeks. Before the pandemic, the first Instacart shopper may have completed 5 or 6 grocery orders in a full day; he now fulfills about 12 to 13 orders.

Two months ago, there may have been 20 to 30 grocery orders on the Shipt app at the start of each day, one shopper said. Now, there are between 600 and 700 orders at the start of every day, and around 250 orders go unfulfilled daily.

“The way I think of it is every offer is one family that needs groceries or cleaning supplies, so it’s kind of overwhelming because at the end of our days, it’s like 250 families we still haven’t helped,” the Shipt shopper said. “San Antonio has probably 2,500 (Shipt) shoppers. There’s a lot of shoppers, but a good portion of regular shoppers have stopped shopping because they’re scared of getting sick.”

Uber CEO Dara Khosrowshahi recently asked President Donald Trump to provide relief for gig workers in the $2 trillion stimulus package passed by Congress last week.

The Pandemic Unemployment Assistance provision included in the package provides $600 per week in unemployment benefits for gig workers in Texas affected by the viral outbreak.

But while the benefits may help some gig workers in the short term, experts note the federal government funding unemployment insurance for them isn’t sustainable.

Under normal circumstances, gig workers don’t qualify for unemployment. Employers pay a payroll tax for each employee, which contributes to the pot of money in each state that’s available for workers seeking unemployment.

Because gig-economy platforms don’t classify workers as employees — oftentimes labeling them “entrepreneurs” — they don’t offer benefits or pay into the unemployment insurance fund for workers.

That’s left the general taxpayer to foot the bill for gig workers’ unemployment insurance.

“In a system working correctly, gig workers in Texas would by any measure be classified as full-time employees and would qualify for regular state unemployment insurance,” Chen said. “And it would be corporations like Uber and Lyft paying their fair share in the unemployment system, rather than have the government cover it during an emergency.”

Khosrowshahi and other tech executives have argued workers on the different platforms prefer flexibility, and categorizing drivers or shoppers as full-time employees would mean they’d lose the freedom to work when and where they want.

A Barclays analysis last summer found it would cost Uber and Lyft hundreds of millions just to reclassify drivers in California as employees, and could potentially bankrupt both companies.

In the meantime, the gig workers interviewed for this story, lacking health care benefits, said they’re doing what they can to keep themselves and their customers virus-free.

Each worker detailed their hygiene routines, which include sanitizing and spraying Lysol several times per day, and also sanitizing grocery bags before they’re left at a customers’ door, among other precautions.

The day ends with the shoppers immediately throwing their outfit in the washer and taking a shower.

“So many of the customers that I have right now, they’re elderly, and they’re like my family at this point,” said a second Shipt shopper. “I know I’m doing what I can for my family at home to reduce their risk of getting something from whatever I may have come in contact with potentially. But other people don’t have that option. There’s that feeling of a call to duty.”

Several gig workers said they have considered filing for unemployment, but said they would rather continue working if they’re able to.

They also said they hope the pandemic makes consumers reconsider the value of gig work.

“People are seeing the inequality at work when you have a certain set of people that are doing such essential work, but are so left behind by our existing labor laws and by employers,” Chen said. “What is the value of this work? Why don’t these workers have the most basic and fundamental protections at work?”

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Gig firms to contribute 1-2% of turnover for social security of workers




Gig companies will soon have to allot one-two per cent of their annual turnover for social security funds of their workers, according to a new labour law scheduled to be tabled in the Parliament on Saturday. This is the first time that “aggregators”—ride-sharing services, food and grocery delivery, logistic services, e-market places among them”—will be asked to contribute for the social security of gig economy workers.

The Code on Social Security Bill, 2020 however, puts a cap on the total contributions companies have to make. The contribution …

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Gig Economy Market Comprehensive Analysis, Share, Growth Forecast from 2020 to 2025




Global Gig Economy Market Research Report presents the overview and in depth study of worldwide Gig Economy Market for achieving throughout understanding and business intelligence of the market with the Financial & Industrial Analysis of key players, companies, region, types, applications and its future scope in the industry till 2025.

The research report on Gig Economy market evaluates the major trends which define the industry growth in terms of the regional scope as well as the competitive landscape. It also highlights the challenges & restraints faced by the leading companies along with the key growth opportunities that will assist in business expansion.

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The document is also inclusive of information such as the impact of COVID-19 pandemic on the revenue generation of this business sphere, further allowing for better understanding among stakeholders.

Gig Economy  Market Comprehensive Analysis, Share, Growth Forecast from 2020 to 2025

Gig Economy Market Comprehensive Analysis, Share, Growth Forecast from 2020 to 2025

Request Sample Copy of this Report @

Key insights to COVID-19 impact analysis:

  • Worldwide COVID-19 status and subsequent economic overview.
  • Impact on demand and supply chain processes of this industry vertical.
  • Short and long term effects of Coronavirus outbreak on the industry development.

A summary of the regional terrain:

  • The report bifurcates the geographical landscape into North America, Europe, Asia-Pacific, Middle East and Africa, South America.
  • It offers a comprehensive overview of each of the regional market in terms of their individual growth rate over the study duration.
  • Additional data such as revenues and sales generated by every region listed is also mentioned.

Other key aspects from the Gig Economy market report:

  • As per the report, the competitive spectrum of the Gig Economy market is formulated by organizations such as Prosper,Lime,Etsy,BlaBlaCar,VaShare,Envato Studio,Fon,BHU Technology,Didi Global,Snap,,Zipcar,Uber,Toptal,Stashbee,Eatwith,Lyft,Couchsurfing,PeoplePerHour,Spotahome,Care.como,E-stronger,Silvernest,Upwork,Fiverr,Steam,Hubble,Home Away,Omni,Airbnb,JustPark andAirtasker.
  • Crucial insights such as company profile, product offerings, production capabilities, gross margins, pricing patterns and overall market share held by each firm is offered.
  • Meanwhile, the product landscape of the Gig Economy market is split into Asset-Sharing Services,Transportation-Based Services,Professional Services,Household & Miscellaneous Services (HGHM) andOthers.
  • Data pertaining to volume and revenue predictions of every product fragment over the forecast period is documented.
  • Additional details including production patterns, market share and estimated growth rate of all the product types is enumerated.
  • The application scope of the Gig Economy market comprises of Traffic,Electronic,Accommodation,Food and Beverage,Tourism,Education andOthers.
  • The report measures the market share of every application segment and subsequently predicts their respective growth rate over the estimated timeframe.
  • It also elaborates on the industry supply chain as well as the other competition trends.
  • The study conducts a detailed SWOT as well as five Porter’s analysis in order to allow for better decision-making during investment evaluation.

Major highlights of the Gig Economy market report:

  • The impact of COVID-19 on revenue streams for Gig Economy market players.
  • Calculations of total sales value and total market revenue.
  • Deteriorating trends in the industry.
  • The estimated growth rate of the Gig Economy market.
  • Detailed information on major distributors, retailers, and traders.

Key findings of the report:

  • Intricate assessment of the competitive landscape of the Gig Economy Market
  • Country-specific analysis of the supply-demand ration for the Soundbar different geographies
  • Influence of technological advancements on the Gig Economy Market
  • SWOT analysis of each company profiled in the report

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Collaboration in the Gig Economy




September 18, 2020

Utmost Software Inc. was the judges’ pick among four workforce ecosystem technology startups presenting in a competition styled after the television show Shark Tank on Thursday. The event was part of the Collaboration in the Gig Economy virtual conference bringing together staffing firms, buyers and HR tech.

All four finalists were chosen from a number of firms to present before a panel of four judges, who picked their top startup.

Utmost provides software that enables enterprise firms to track their extended workforces, which include contingent workers, consultants, contractors and freelancers, among others. Unlike VMS providers, which are typically supplier-paid, the company has a set pricing model that is paid by enterprise firms themselves.

Utmost is also native to Workday and focuses exclusively on Workday customers. In addition, Workday is an investor in the company and Utmost co-founder and COO Dan Beck himself comes from Workday.

That relationship was one thing that caught judges’ attention.

“I like the business, it’s got a built-in customer base,” said Jai Shekhawat, one of the Shark judges. Shekhawat is also founder and former CEO of SAP Fieldglass. However, he did question why Utmost chose its pricing model when enterprise firms are more accustomed to the VMS supplier-paid model.

“I think he has a bright future ahead of him; not easy, but I wish him all the best,” Shekhawat said.

Timing, thoughtfulness and focus were also cited by the other three judges:

  • “Although there was something timely in everything we saw today, Utmost, in particular, I think is really timely to what enterprise customers, HR executives, hiring managers are trying to solve right now,” said Rebecca Henderson, CEO and executive board member at Randstad nv.
  • “All of the startups were really interesting,” said Pete Flint, managing partner of NFX, a venture capital firm. “Utmost stood out, just their thoughtfulness, their experience, their distribution; I think that really stood out. This is a terrific opportunity; it’s a burning need for many enterprises.”
  • “The criteria of innovation, market opportunity and the quality of the presentations made it really tough because some may be more innovative than others and some might have a bigger market opportunity,” said Gary Swart, partner at Polaris Partners, an investment firm. “I think Dan’s focus was a differentiator. The fact that there is not only an innovative solution but a focused go-to-market, not trying to boil the ocean and tackle too much.”

The other finalists presenting to the Shark Tank panel were:

  • Emma El-Karout, founder and CEO of One Circle, a digital community of on-demand HR freelancers.
  • Matthew Mottola, co-founder and CEO of Venture L. The company is described as a Shopify for running freelance businesses that enables freelancers to scale their operations.
  • Alexander Torrenegra, CEO of Torre, a professional network that is friendly for both knowledge workers and blue-collar workers that uses programmatic automatic matching for jobs.

The Collaboration in the Gig Economy Conference ends today.

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