California’s independent contractors and gig workers will be able to apply for unemployment benefits through the federal Pandemic Unemployment Assistance program on April 28, California state officials announced on Wednesday.
The payments will be processed within 24-48 hours, Labor Secretary Julie Su said, with the first payments being turned around by April 30.
“It will apply to those who are self-employed, those who are independent contractors, also to employees whose wage data is not sufficient, their work history is not sufficient to qualify for unemployment insurance, and to others who have exhausted their unemployment insurance benefits,” Su said.
The payments will also be retroactive, Su said, dating back to the first week of February for workers who can attest they were impacted by COVID-19 at that time. The state will also be extending its call center hours for those in need of assistance, from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m., for seven days a week, beginning on Monday.
Gig workers impacted by the pandemic will still be able to get $600 per week in state unemployment benefits, including in the form of debit cards, on top of the federal assistance, Gov. Gavin Newsom said. The governor also signed an executive order on Wednesday to establish a $125 million fund — created through a public-private partnership — for undocumented Californians who wouldn’t normally be eligible for unemployment benefits. The fund will distribute one-time $500 payments to undocumented adults; there is a $1,000 cap for each household.
A record 2.7 million Californians have applied for unemployment insurance to date, Newsom said. On Tuesday, the governor also detailed the six requirements the state must meet before it can begin gradually lifting the “stay at home” order.