Self-Employed and Gig Workers are Eligible for Unemployment Insurance Under the CARES Act

Self-Employed and Gig Workers are Eligible for Unemployment Insurance Under the CARES Act

In California, people who are self-employed and workers in the gig economy (think Uber, Lyft, Instacart, Postmates) are eligible for UI (Unemployment Insurance) benefits for a maximum payment of $1,050 per week, for a maximum of 39 weeks. Applicable pay periods start on January 27, 2020 and end on December 31, 2020.

Under the CARES (the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security) Act, the temporary Pandemic Unemployment Assistance program extends UI (Unemployment Insurance) benefits to applicants who, due to COVID-19, are unemployed (totally or partially), or unable or unavailable to work. Individuals specific included and covered under the CARES Act are:

  1. Self-employed,

  2. Independent contractors (1099),

  3. Gig workers,

  4. Part-time job seekers,

  5. Those who lack sufficient work history, and

  6. Those who have exhausted their UI benefits.

The CARES Act provides for enhanced payment of an additional $600 per week, in addition to the maximum amount allowed under state law. This means that for Californians, the regular maximum payment amount of $450 per week will be increased by an additional $600 per week. Standard UI benefits in California of a maximum of 26 weeks will be increased by an additional 13 weeks under the CARES Act.

Workers with reduced hours, due to COVID-19 reasons, may also be eligible to receive pro-rated UI benefits.

As part of the UI benefit application process, applicants must self-certify that they are unemployed (totally or partially) or unable or unavailable to work because of COVID-19 reason.

Those who are able to telework with pay or those who are receiving paid leave are not eligible.

If you are self-employed or a worker in the gig economy, you can apply for UI benefit at the Employment Development Department (EDD) website.

Author Bio

Vincent Tong

Vincent Tong is the CEO and Managing Partner of TONG LAW, a business and employment law firm located in Oakland, CA. Vincent is a fierce advocate for employees facing discrimination and wrongful termination. With several successful jury trial victories and favorable settlements, he has earned a strong reputation for delivering exceptional results for his clients.

In addition, Vincent provides invaluable counsel to businesses, guiding them on critical matters such as formation and governance, regulatory compliance, and protection of intellectual property assets. His depth of experience allows him to anticipate risks, devise strategies to avoid legal pitfalls, and empower clients to pursue their goals confidently.

Vincent currently serves as the 2021 President of the Board of Directors for the Alameda County Bar Association and sits on the Executive Board for the California Employment Lawyers Association. Recognized for outstanding skills and client dedication, he has consecutively earned the Super Lawyers’ Rising Star honor since 2015, reserved for the top 2.5% of attorneys. He also received the Distinguished Service Award for New Attorney from the Alameda County Bar Association in 2016. He is licensed to practice before all California state courts and the United States District Court for the Northern and Central Districts of California.

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