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US Independent Contractor Unemployment Insurance

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Community Guru
Douglas Michael M Member Since: May 22, 2015
11 of 30

The best strategy may vary from state to state. In Connecticut, for example, there is an argument for submitting a regular claim, even as they have announced they will have to reprogram their system to accommodate the federal funds. I filed based on my sole outstanding contract's being explicitly suspended by the client because of COVID-related suspension of their field research.

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Moderator
Vladimir G Moderator Member Since: Oct 31, 2014
12 of 30

Hi Kire,

 

We see Eve responded to your questions and shared her advice (thanks Eve!).

 

For Kire and Karen,

 

While we can't advise on your questions, we wanted to share that Upwork is a founding partner of the Freelancers Relief Fund, run by the Freelancers Union’s nonprofit subsidiary, Working Today, to assist independent workers in the U.S. experiencing financial hardship as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. The immediate goal is to raise $500,000 to provide small grants and other assistance for freelancers experiencing hardship. The fund is open to all freelancers in the U.S., with relief targeted toward helping freelancers pay for essential personal expenses including groceries, rent, and other household bills. The fund offers financial assistance of up to $1,000 per freelance household to cover lost income and essential personal expenses not covered by government relief programs, including food, utility payments, and cash assistance to cover income loss. To learn more visit https://www.freelancersunion.org/resources/freelancers-relief-fund/

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Community Guru
Petra R Member Since: Aug 3, 2011
13 of 30

Vladimir G wrote:

.....The fund is open to all freelancers in the U.S.


That's nice Smiley Happy So much for global platform. Upwork's global freelancers made the platform what it is today.... 

 

I'm pretty much speechless.

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Active Member
KAREN S Member Since: Jun 7, 2019
14 of 30
Yet, based on each State's UI office specifications and requirements.
For instance, my State's UI office is currently "requesting additional guidance from
the USDOL before implementing".

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Community Guru
Christine A Member Since: May 4, 2016
15 of 30

Petra R wrote:

Vladimir G wrote:

.....The fund is open to all freelancers in the U.S.


That's nice Smiley Happy So much for global platform. Upwork's global freelancers made the platform what it is today.... 

 

I'm pretty much speechless.


I agree that it if Upwork is going to provide any assistance, it would be nice if it were available to all of their freelancers. It sounds like American freelancers are going to receive financial assistance anyway, so people in other countries might be much more in need of help.

 

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Active Member
KAREN S Member Since: Jun 7, 2019
16 of 30
You will want to check with your State's Unemployment Insurance Office.
The following is specifically from what the President just signed:
Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA) – The Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA) program is separate from the regular unemployment insurance program, which will continue to operate. PUA may cover individuals who are not eligible for regular and extended benefits, or Pandemic Emergency Unemployment Compensation (PEUC).  This could include independent contractors, self-employed, agricultural workers, etc.
I consider myself an Independent Contractor and will continue to pursue this with my State's UI Office.  I would recommend you do the same.
Hope this helps.

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Active Member
Judith W M Member Since: Jul 2, 2019
17 of 30

Unfortunately, I'm getting a mixed message (bolded) from the CARES Act's list of those the Pandemic Unemployment Assistance will cover. We all have the ability to "telework for pay" -- in fact,  that's the nature of our employment.

 

"Specifically, the CARES Act provides that a “covered individual” includes anyone who self-certifies that they are able and available to work but is unemployed or partially unemployed due to any of the following:

 

  • Has been diagnosed with COVID-19 or is experiencing symptoms and seeking a medical diagnosis;
  • A member of the individual’s household has been diagnosed with COVID-19;
  • The individual is providing care for a family member or household member who has been diagnosed with COVID-19;
  • The individual is the primary caregiver for a child or other person in the household who is unable to attend school or another facility as a direct result of COVID-19;
  • The individual is unable to reach the place of employment because of a quarantine imposed as a direct result of COVID-19;
  • The individual is unable to work because a health care provider has advised the individual to self-quarantine due to COVID-19 concerns;
  • The individual was scheduled to commence employment and does not have a job or is unable to reach the job as a direct result of COVID-19;
  • The individual has become the breadwinner or major support for a household because the head of household has died as a direct result of COVID-19;
  • The individual has to quit their job as a direct result of COVID-19; or
  • The individual’s place of employment is closed as a direct result of COVID-19.

The Secretary of Labor may establish additional eligibility criteria as well. Importantly, the law not only applies to employees, but also to those who are self-employed (independent contractors). Individuals are not eligible for benefits if they have the ability to telework with pay or are receiving paid sick leave or other paid leave benefits.

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Active Member
KAREN S Member Since: Jun 7, 2019
18 of 30
Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA) – The Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA) program is separate from the regular unemployment insurance program, which will continue to operate. PUA may cover individuals who are not eligible for regular and extended benefits, or Pandemic Emergency Unemployment Compensation (PEUC).  This could include independent contractors, self-employed, agricultural workers, etc.
Right?  What State are you??
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Active Member
Lees R Member Since: Apr 1, 2020
19 of 30

In the same way the terms "freelancer" and "self employed" are defined legally by whether you file your taxes with a 1040 Schedule C, the term "telework" is defined legally in the Telwork Enhancement Act and is outlined by the U.S. Office of Personnel Management at 
https://www.opm.gov/faqs/topic/telework/index.aspx?page=1

"The Telework Enhancement Act defines telework or teleworking as a work flexibility arrangement under which an employee performs the duties and responsibilities of such employee's position, and other authorized activities, from an approved worksite other than the location from which the employee would otherwise work.  In practice, telework is a work arrangement that allows an employee to perform work, during any part of regular, paid hours, at an approved alternative worksite (e.g. home or telework center)."

Since upwork independent contractors are not employees working from an approved worksite  during regular, paid hours, you qualify for Pandemic unemployment insurance as a gig worker, again, as defined by your filing for taxes using a 1099. 

Please note: the problem is not whether you qualify--you do--the problem is how you will "self certify" your earningins and whether that self certification will be  accepted. If you listed your earnings on your 1040 for 2019, you will be fine. However, if you did not report your earnings, you will have screwed yourself because unlike many other online platforms that operate on the backs of gig workers, neither Upwork nor its workers issue workers a 1099, which is a crock of shot. You will need your schedule C.

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Active Member
KAREN S Member Since: Jun 7, 2019
20 of 30
Typically, I am sharper than a bowling ball, however ...
Thanks so very much for bringing up the 1040 C aspect of "employment proof".I often wondered why I claimed every penny from Upwork, as 1099's have becomepractically non existent.  Now, I realize I not only did the right thing, but will hopefully
prove helpful in offering "employment proof" to my State's UI office.
Although, my husband and I have NOT filed taxes for 2019 as of yet, I suspect I can
use the Upwork reporting system to pull 2019 earnings, paired with my 2018 1040 C?
Thanks again!


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