California has hundreds of thousands of gig economy workers, from freelance writers to rideshare and delivery drivers, often classified as independent contractors. Lyft, for example, says it has 325,000 drivers in the state, while Uber has 200,000.
If impacted, these workers may be eligible for unemployment assistance under certain, though limited scenarios, said Loree Levy, an EDD spokesperson.
- If a self-employed or independent contractor chose to cover themselves and paid into an unemployment insurance plan, they can apply for unemployment assistance.
- If a previous employer contributed on that worker’s behalf over the last 12 to 18 months, they can also apply.
- If the individual was misclassified as an independent contractor instead of an employee, they can apply.
Levy did not know how many independent contractors might be eligible.
“It all depends. It’s a case-by-case basis,” she said.
EDD also runs the state’s Disability Insurance and Paid Family Leave programs, both of which require paid contributions.
There’s one more benefit independent workers could be eligible for should the federal government approve it: Disaster Unemployment Assistance. Levy said that benefit has been made available following other national disasters and “covers people who fall through the cracks.”