Q: Many of the youth who I work with are part-time workers or a part of the gig economy, and they have either lost their jobs or had their hours reduced, as a result of the coronavirus. Can they still file for unemployment?
Yes, and they should apply as soon as possible. California has expanded unemployment insurance eligibility to include self-employed workers, freelancers, independent contractors, and part-time workers for up to 39 weeks. Many youth who work as Lyft or Uber drivers, babysitters, dog walkers, or tutors, among other jobs, are now protected. In addition, youth who still have a job and had their hours reduced are also protected.
In general, to qualify for unemployment insurance in California, one must have lost their job or experienced reduced hours through no fault of their own; met certain earnings thresholds during a base period; and be actively seeking new employment. To check their eligibility, youth should register as soon as possible with the State of California Employment Development Department on their phone or computer or call 1-800-300-5616 for directions on how to apply by phone, mail, or fax.
If they qualify, youth can receive weekly benefits from $40-450, depending on their previous earnings, and right now, if approved, they would get an additional $600 week until the end of July. Funds will arrive approximately 2-4 weeks after approval, so youth are encouraged to apply as soon as possible and should be prepared to “recertify for benefits” every two weeks.
For more information refer to this fact sheet created by the Alliance for Children’s Rights.