Postmates, DoorDash and Instacart shift to tech to provide benefits to gig workers

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Employers that rely primarily on contract workers are turning to technology as a way to provide benefits and perks for this growing group of employees.

That’s what same-day food and grocery delivery giants DoorDash, Postmates and InstaCart are doing. The three companies have signed on to use a new app from San Francisco-based startup Stride, whose new tool gives freelance workers the ability to access insurance and other benefits.

Max Rettig, head of policy at DoorDash says the new app will provide their more than 700,000 independent workers access to new financial wellness benefits.

“We are looking forward to offering unprecedented freedom and flexibility to enable everyone from students to teachers to retirees to achieve their goals on their own terms, while enhancing their economic security,” Rettig says.

See also: Postmates delivers expanded benefits package to 350,000 gig workers

Using Stride’s benefits platform, gig employees will access health, dental, vision, life, accident and disability insurance. They also can utilize perks such as prescription discounts, online doctor visits, checking and savings accounts, free mileage and expense tracking, tax assistance and filing, and discounts and deals on products and services. The new platform is now widely available to employers.

The news comes after Postmates announced that it would be delivering an expanded benefits package that includes free occupational accident insurance, new healthcare options, and access to free online college courses and professional certifications to its more than 350,000 gig workers.

“We’re always thinking about ways to help our Postmates fleet spend less and keep more of their earnings,” says Claire Sands, head of Postmates Community.

The number of gig workers in the U.S. is growing. The Bureau of Labor Statistics says about 10.6 million workers cite contract work as their primary source of income.

Employers have debated the best way to provide benefits, to this group of employees. Some have floated the idea of portable benefits, or offerings that are connected to the individual instead of the employer and can be taken from one job to another. These universal benefits can be paid based on hours worked or other productive units, for instance, a rideshare may choose to pay based on rides completed.

See also: Portable benefits: Perks for the gig economy

Technology also may offer a solution, and a number of startups have developed tools specifically for the gig economy. For example, New York-based insurtech Trupo also offers three insurance products — accident, dental, specified disease and cancer — through its online tool for freelance workers. Gig workers in New York now have access to the benefits, with plans to deploy more widely throughout the U.S. over the next year. Startups Zego and Bunker also provide benefits to these workers.

Stride works with a number of additional companies that rely on gig workers including major employers such as Uber, GrubHub, TaskRabbit and Care.com. Noah Lang, CEO and co-founder of Stride says the company is focused on helping independent workers achieve economic security.

“We couldn’t be more proud to be working with the world’s largest platforms for independent workers and helping those workers keep more of their earnings,” Lang says.

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