COVID-19 Unemployment Assistance for Gig Workers and Freelancers
Ambiguous statutory language is consistently being clarified to help those affected by the coronavirus pandemic on both the Federal and local levels. So many individuals are asking themselves if they can collect unemployment, and recently it has come to light that app-based drivers, as well as gig workers, are eligible for unemployment benefits.
According to the federal government, if you are an independent contractor and you have experienced a “significant diminution of work as a direct result of COVID-19,” then you could potentially collect unemployment. These provisions fall under the Pandemic Unemployment Assistance program.
The Department of Labor has been informed that clarity will be necessary when it comes to broad and ambiguous language that could lead to states not offering benefits to contractors that the law was intended to protect.
COVID-19 Unemployment Insurance Benefits Confusion
However, there is a lot of confusion around who is eligible to collect. One common questions are: do you have to test positive to potentially drawn unemployment? Not necessarily.
The difficulty is due to language in the section states that a nonemployee ride-hailing driver may not be able to gain unemployment unless “He or she has been forced to suspend operations” due to the COVID-19 outbreak.
There have indeed been “Additional criteria to cover gig workers.” For so many individuals, clarity is going to become power in this situation. If you are a driver and your business has been affected by COVID-19, do you have a chance at qualifying for unemployment?
There are some companies providing benefits for those affected by COVID-19. If diagnosed with COVID-19, companies like Uber, Instacart, and Door Dash are offering two weeks of financial assistance. Under the criteria used by the ADP Research Institute, one in six workers count as gig workers in the United States.
That equates to more than 25 million Americans. That is a massive percentage of the workforce. And programs are being put into place to alleviate the hardships they are going to experience or have already gone through.
Florida and COVID-19 Unemployment Benefits for Gig-Workers and the Self-Employed
In terms of Florida, studies have suggested that gig workers and the self-employed make up a fifth of the state’s workforce. Drivers for Lyft and Uber have had some confusion, only because although they do not qualify for typical unemployment benefits given by the state, they do qualify for assistance that is being provided during the pandemic. Getting that assistance has been another story altogether.
As one would expect, online portals are having trouble shouldering the number of individuals filing for this assistance.
With confusing processes and ambiguous language, there has been a rise in panic for people reaching out for help. One of the essential actions you will take is that of utilizing and having resources that you trust who are dealing with these changes every single day. That is why we are here to help you.
One of the most significant hardships that individuals are facing is how much time it takes to go through the process to get the assistance that they need. One individual, who is using the name Ted and keeping his last name private to preserve potential job prospects in the future, charted his process.
Ted was attempting to apply for unemployment benefits during coronavirus COVID-19. He has been forced to stay home and could not work due to the quarantine.
Ted was hoping to collect a few weeks of unemployment at the reported rate of $600 per week.
He made over 900 calls in 6 days and was only able to get through when he entered his social security number on the phone. After that, he was told that he would get half the assistance, but another portion would have to be registered for later because the program was not instituted yet.
Receiving benefits in Florida for Gig-Workers and Freelancers
The truth is that time is not going to be on our side when it comes to the inundation these programs are facing. It is true that, for many families, they need assistance immediately, and the ambiguity does not help them understand if they qualify or not.
As always, we are staying close to every situation, and we want to know the questions that you have. Utilize your allied resources at this time and give us a call if you begin to run into complications or feel that legally you need advice. We are here to help, and we take great pride in the fact that one conversation with us can change your future.
There are no dumb questions during this time, and if you are struggling to understand what to do next, we are here to help you. Call our office right now at (407) 512-4394 and ask to speak with an employment lawyer.