I don’t know about you, but for me, the opportunity to make some extra cash is always an interesting one. Pepper in the fact that this particular opportunity is with Amazon – a company that is ubiquitous nowadays – and now you’ve really got my attention.
But just because we all know Amazon, a company that is headed up by the world’s richest man, does that mean Flex is a good deal? Let’s find out.
How Does Amazon Flex Work?
Like jobs from Uber, TaskRabbit, and PostMates, driving for Flex is a part of the “gig economy.” A quick Google search tells us the gig economy is “a labor market characterized by the prevalence of short-term contracts or freelance work as opposed to permanent jobs.”
In reality, this is just a buzzword for contract work. And that is nothing new. In fact, the New York Times says that employment agencies began in the United States during the WWII area.
But, of course, these temporary work agreements are much easier to coordinate in today’s economy. That is thanks to the prevalence of the smartphone and their accompanying internet access.
After becoming an approved Flex driver, all drivers have to do is open the app and find an available shift that works for his or her schedule. They then pick up packages from the warehouse and deliver them to the assigned addresses.
Barring complications (more on this later), it is really that simple! The hourly rate can vary, but Amazon says this number is between $18 and $25.
A couple of caveats to this: I listened to several drivers discuss their actual experiences. Typically, they mentioned $18 as the standard rate; I don’t believe any of them even mentioned $25. For example, in this video, Luke Ducklow mentions several rates above $18, but the highest one is $22.
Additionally, drivers must provide their own transportation. This also means that expenses such as gas, oil changes, and other ongoing expenses are not reimbursed by Amazon.
“Flex” is for Flexibility
One of the really nice things about Flex is the ability to pick and choose your own schedule. Although we often think this way about services like Uber and Lyft, it turns out that Flex has even more flexibility. However, driving for a rideshare service can be inconsistent. Sometimes, there are more riders than other times. Market conditions can make a big difference, as well as the time/day you are driving.
On the flip side, with Flex, you simply decide when you want to work. That is, assuming there is availability at when you want to work. In that sense, Flex is also more predictable and consistent, which is a definite pro for drivers. Picking up packages is centralized and tightly controlled by Amazon, so you know what you’re getting yourself into before you start the shift.
Things to Keep in Mind
I mentioned earlier that Amazon does not cover any of your expenses related to transportation. Not only that, but they actually will not cover any expenses at all, even if they are incurred while on the job.
Amazon also does not provide health insurance or worker’s compensation for drivers. If you are carrying an extremely heavy package and are injured, Amazon will not cover medical expenses or offer paid time off.
Another important thing to know is that you are an independent contractor when driving for Flex. This means you work on a 1099 basis, so the money you are paid is not taxed up front. You still must pay tax on that money, though, so that is yet another way in which your earnings will be reduced.
I also came across stories from a few current (and former) drivers who expressed frustration over the lack of information provided to them. For instance, Paul Yeo had his driving privileges revoked due to what he described as a minor offense that was outside of his control.
When this happened, he had to contact Amazon through support. Because you are an independent contractor with no home base, you do not have a manager with whom you can ask any clarifying questions you may have. Yeo also mentioned having to wait two weeks to hear back from support.
Is Amazon Flex Right for You?
All in all, there is a lot to like about Flex: Flexible, yet reliable work arrangements. Plus, you aren’t obligated to work a certain number of shifts. In other words, if something comes up, you can simply decide not to take a shift that day.
Of course, it’s not all good: the perks are very limited in that Amazon does not reimburse drivers for expenses. In addition, no health insurance is provided, and you still have to pay taxes after receiving your money at the advertised rates.
Despite its shortcomings, there are many drivers who are very satisfied with Flex. It offers a decent hourly rate while allowing drivers to set their own schedules. This can be especially nice for those who also work a full-time job or have other commitments that can change frequently.
All in all, it comes down to how much you appreciate the flexibility of working for Flex. If this is extremely important to you, you might just have the right gig here.