Instawork enlists freelancers to work in warehouses, bars, restaurants and at events.

Expected pay: $10 – $25 per hour

Husl$core: $$$

Commissions & fees: None paid by the freelancer

Where: More than 30 major metro areas, including LA, San Diego, San Francisco, New York, Chicago, Boston, Austin, Dallas, Houston, Las Vegas, Miami, Phoenix, and Seattle

Requirements: 18 or older; smart phone; relevant experience for the job sought; possible background check

Instawork review:

Instawork connects hospitality and warehouse workers with businesses and organizations that need bartenders, waiters, shelf-stockers and others. The site charges no commissions or fees to workers. Those are paid by the corporate clients. Pay is about standard for the type of work, ranging from minimum wage to as much as $25 per hour.

Instawork typically pays workers once weekly by direct deposit. However, those who complete a set number of shifts and get consistently good reviews, qualify for Instant Pay. Instant Pay compensates workers within hours of completing a shift.

Workers need to sign in and out on the Instawork app to get paid, regardless of whether the actual employer has another time-clock system. Workers will also get suspended or deactivated from the Instawork site, if they fail to show up for a shift or are late more than once or twice. However, they get rewarded with early-access to gigs, if they do a certain number of shifts per month, with no cancellations and high reviews.

Worker’s comp

Instawork also requires that everyone on the platform join and pay dues to the Independent Contractors Benefits Association Inc. (ICBA), which apparently provides worker’s compensation coverage to Instawork’s independent contractors. (The membership is $12 annually, so it won’t exactly break the bank.) The site also demands that you have vehicle insurance and worker’s comp. “in amounts equal to or greater than what’s required by law in your jurisdiction.” 

Rights grab

However, the item that’s most disturbing in Instawork’s contract is a rights grab. The short version: If you happen to come up with an invention, work of authorship, design, or valuable idea while working on an Instawork project, Instawork demands all the rights to this creation. If it’s illegal to give Instawork your rights, you must provide — without payment — a perpetual license for Instawork to use your idea for profit. Anywhere. Everywhere. And forever. 

Why does this platform have a right to your intellectual property? We can’t come up with any logical justification.


Many users say they find good part-time jobs here. But we are highly disturbed by Instawork’s rights grab. To be sure, inventions are relatively rare. So maybe you don’t have to worry about coming up with a patentable idea while stocking shelves or working as a bartender. But what if you did? For this reason alone, we prefer alternative sites such as Qwick, Wonolo, Jitjatjo and BlueCrew. 

What their users say (from Google App store)

Update is bad. Not receiving any notifications in app or via text. Tech support ignores issues that their own CSR created. Now I’m out hundreds of dollars, future shifts that clients request me, and they don’t know what they did on their end.”

“I greatly enjoy this app! I just wish there was a notification alert for the new jobs being posted versus me having to constantly refresh the page to check for new gigs.”

“It’s pretty unethical to allow companies to post gigs for an alluring hourly wage, only to allow them to drastically drop that wage after the first shift without any notice or explanation. You just have to notice it to even realize you’re not making what you were that first shift.”

“The app insists that you have your location on so they can track you going to and from a shift. And it will take you off of shifts if you fail to confirm them 24 hours prior. Or maybe you’ll wake up the day of your shift to find your shift canceled and your account suspended without warning. This app is a nightmare.”

What their users say (from Glassdoor)

“Easy work, no one breathing down your neck, management extremely nice”

“Low wages not only for their employees, but users on the platform. Little to no growth with in the company. Businesses are put above daily users and complaints regarding businesses are overlooked if they do enough gigs.”

“The pay is horrible. 1099 Jobs are over-staffed frequently and workers are told that they’re not needed after traveling to the job. The app tracks the workers 90 minutes before and during the entire shift draining your phone battery. 

From Indeed:

“I love working for Instawork as an event server. I can make my own schedule and select jobs based on location and time. Although I do have to travel a bit, the pay makes up for it.”

“There was always work available (before the pandemic at least). I’ve enjoyed pretty much every gig I took. And I’ve never had a problem with management or at any of my jobs.”

“It’s good when there’s good gigs available but lately things have been slowing down or you have to quick draw your phone out of your pocket before it’s snatched up.”

“Without notifications you can never book a gig unless you check your phone a hundred times a day. The GPS and clocking in always have issues, which result in them suspending you from all your gigs. There is no support. You will never speak to a person. They never answer your questions. They act like these issues are new to them when people have been complaining for months.”

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