Tag: stimulus

Independent workers: When do we get unemployment?

Hair dressers, gig drivers, landscapers, freelancers and other independent contractors who work for themselves normally don’t qualify for unemployment benefits.  But these aren’t normal times.

The $2 trillion government stimulus program is supposed to finally give unemployment benefits for millions of self-employed people who do not pay into the unemployment compensation system as full-time employees do.  However, many of them are growing more nervous by the day as they wonder when they will see the money.  Laura Grant, like many people on furlough right now, is desperately trying to reach her state’s unemployment hotline to learn if she now qualifies for benefits. Grant is a hair stylist who manages a six-person salon called Beneath the Crown in Florence, Kentucky. All the employees are independent contractors who rent booths. She’s had no luck reaching a live person in Kentucky’s unemployment office. Every time she calls, thousands of other people are trying to do the same.  Hair salon workers, freelancers waiting for stimulus aid.

Laura Grant, like many people on furlough right now, is desperately trying to reach her state’s unemployment hotline to learn if she now qualifies for benefits.  Grant is a hair stylist who manages a six-person salon called Beneath the Crown in Florence, Kentucky. All the employees are independent contractors who rent booths.  She’s had no luck reaching a live person in Kentucky’s unemployment office. Every time she calls, thousands of other people are trying to do the same. She and her fellow stylists have tried filing online for unemployment benefits but have had no luck because they have no “employer.”  “I was able to fill it out, but in the employer section, I had to put ‘self employed,’ so it denied me,” she said. President Trump and state leaders have announced that the stimulus package specifically provides benefits for self-employed and gig workers, but these hair stylists and millions of other workers like them have yet to see it.  Workers at Beneath the Crown are praying it happens. Until it does, they’ll be facing down looming bills without any way to pay.  “It’s been two weeks and I haven’t had any income,” Grant said. “We all have car payments. There are a couple of single moms who work here, so we are all up in the air and we don’t know what to do.”

Kentucky’s unemployment office says self-employed workers should fill out the online forms anyway, and the state government will “fix the issue at the back end” when the federal money comes through. Other states are also telling independent workers to file, even if the form rejects them at this point.  Grant hopes it happens soon. In the meantime, she’s trying to live by the message in her lobby: “Think positive and positive things will happen.