Take it from an Instacart driver watching the employee-or-contractor debate: App-based workers want the flexibility

Imagine being able to work with a company you choose, you hire, and you earn money with because they work for you. Instead of conforming to a rigid 9-5 schedule, you can choose how, when, and with whom you earn.

That’s exactly what I can do as an app-based worker. When I’m earning with Instacart and Uber, I’m my own boss, and I’m proud of the skill, enthusiasm, and expertise I bring to my work.

For years, the income I earned throughout my career in construction work has supported my family. I love my job, and we always have enough for everyday bills. But during the pandemic, goals like paying down debt or taking my family on vacation grew further out of reach. I knew I wanted to earn extra income to tackle those goals but getting a second full-time job was out of the question. Construction work hours can vary dramatically, and it isn’t possible to work two jobs with set shifts that would likely conflict. At the same time, I don’t want to miss out on important life moments with my family. 

That’s why recent news from our nation’s capital was upsetting: a government agency proposal could make independent work harder, undercutting the freedom and flexibility I enjoy today—the key reasons millions like me joined the app-based economy. 

App-based platforms must compete for you—for your services—and you have the freedom and flexibility to choose who you want to earn with and when. You get to be your own boss.  

Turning to app-based work with Instacart and Uber has meant extra income on my terms and realizing my financial goals for my family. As an app-based worker, I handcraft my own schedule, varying my hours week by week, so I can earn extra income without having to miss a dance recital or a big game. The flexibility offered by this work allows me to build towards my long-term goals and be financially independent, giving me agency and control over my own future. 

Not only does this work support our family’s everyday needs, but opportunities to earn with companies like Instacart and Uber provide the extra income needed to make the impossible possible. As a family of four, the dream of vacationing at places like Disney World always seemed far away, but the extra income I brought home has allowed me to take my fiancé, daughter, and son to Disney World this year for the first time. I was able to pay for our trip in full without incurring debt and putting added stress on our finances—a wonderful feeling for anyone with young kids. 

From managing rising costs day-to-day to being able to take the quintessential American dream family vacation, app-based work works for me, and for more than 23 million Americans who are current or recent app-based workers. 

We want to be our own boss, to have the flexibility to earn extra income on our terms, and to balance family needs. It’s important for policymakers to understand why we are flocking to this work—flexibility helps balance life and earning opportunities in a way that traditional employment alone never could, and it must be protected. 

Roman Juela is an Instacart and Uber Eats driver from Queens, New York.

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