Legislators request unemployment assistance for independent contractors

Federal funds for hairdressers, high tech coders and others

State Sen. Karen Keiser

State Sen. Karen Keiser

The Senate and House Democratic caucuses have requested that the federal government unlock disaster unemployment assistance for thousands of independent contractors in Washington who are losing work during the coronavirus pandemic.

Sen. Karen Keiser (D-Des Moines), who authored the letter, said:

“The American workplace has changed and thousands of workers who are independent contractors—from hairdressers to high tech coders—do not qualify for unemployment benefits,” Keiser said in a Washington State Senate Democrats news release on March 24. “During this public health crisis that is a hardship they should not be forced to endure.”

The full text of the letter:

Dear Members of the Washington State Congressional Delegation:

In these uncertain times, we need to act to protect all workers, especially those who don’t have access to unemployment insurance assistance. These workers include those considered by employers to be independent contractors in the gig economy and those who are self-employed. We are hearing from these workers about the economic difficulties caused by the coronavirus pandemic. This threatens their livelihoods and the strength of the broader economy.

Therefore, on behalf of the Senate and House Democratic Caucuses, we ask the Congressional Delegation to work with the Administration to ensure that Disaster Unemployment Assistance (DUA) can be applied to pandemics in the same manner as to natural disasters when a federal emergency is declared. This will enable more Americans to have access to Unemployment Insurance (UI) without some of the standard eligibility requirements.

Disaster Unemployment Assistance would provide financial assistance to individuals whose employment or self-employment has been lost or interrupted as a direct result of a major disaster and who are not eligible for regular unemployment insurance benefits.

When a major disaster has been declared by the President, DUA is generally available to any unemployed worker or self-employed individual who lived, worked, or was scheduled to work in the disaster area at the time of the disaster; and who, due to the disaster:

* no longer has a job or a place to work

* cannot reach the place of work

* cannot work due to damage to the place of work

* cannot work because of an injury caused by the disaster.

DUA benefits are payable to individuals for up to 26 weeks after the date the disaster was declared by the President.

While the President approved Washington’s request to declare a major disaster in Washington related to COVID-19, the Administration is still considering the request to activate DUA as part of the declaration. We urge the Congressional Delegation to request the Administration unlock these vital benefits for our workers and businesses.

We understand the tremendous challenges you face in responding to the coronavirus crisis. Access to these additional benefits will make sure businesses and workers have a greater ability to get through this challenging situation. Thank you for considering this path to extend a safety net for our constituents who are considered independent contractors and who are self-employed and shore up our country’s economy during this uncertain time.

Sincerely,

Senator Karen Keiser

Chair, Labor & Commerce Committee

Representative Mike Sells

Chair, Labor & Workplace Standards Committee

Senator Andy Billig

Majority Leader, State Senate

Representative Laurie Jenkins

Speaker, State House of Representatives


Talk to us

Please share your story tips by emailing editor@federalwaymirror.com.

To share your opinion for publication, submit a letter through our website https://www.federalwaymirror.com/submit-letter/. Include your name, address and daytime phone number. (We’ll only publish your name and hometown.) Please keep letters to 300 words or less.

More in Northwest

File photo
Snow Lake, located near Snoqualmie Pass in Mt. Baker-Snoqualmie National Forest.
Washington releases new forest plan

It outlines ways the state will protect and maintain forest health.

King County Council has nine members who each represent a district. Courtesy of kingcounty.gov
King County Council passes $12.59 billion biennial budget

King County Council on Nov. 17 passed a $12.59 billion biennial budget… Continue reading

Tim Eyman get in some last minute campaigning for I-976 in downtown Bellevue on the afternoon of Nov. 5, 2019. File photo
Eyman fights allegation he repeatedly broke campaign laws

In a lawsuit, the state accuses the prolific initiative promoter of getting kickbacks.

Screenshot from Gov. Jay Inslee’s news conference Nov. 12 with his wife, Trudi.
Inslee to hold news conference to announce new restrictions

Among them, reportedly, will be a ban on indoor service at restaurants and retail limitations.

t
Inslee issues travel advisory for Washington

Joins Oregon and California governors asking residents to limit travel; self-quarantine

t
Prices going up for Puget Sound Energy natural gas customers

COVID-19 pandemic increases natural gas prices

Stock photo
COVID-19 activity intensifying across Washington state

Higher rates in Western and Eastern Washington

Stock photo
800,000 ballots returned so far to King County Elections

55% of 1.4 million registered voters; turnout expected to hit 90%

Most Read