Self-employed workers impacted by COVID-19 could also get federal assistance

FRESNO, Calif. (KFSN) -- One local lawmaker is pushing for leaders at the state capital to get much-needed financial help to those who don't qualify for unemployment.

Under the federal CARES act, those who are self-employed or independent contractors may be eligible for federal assistance during the pandemic.

The shutdown of businesses like beauty shops, nail salons, and even dog groomers has financially crippled many who are self-employed or independent contractors.

Denee Conner is a corporate event planner whose work has been dramatically cut back since so many events have been canceled.

"It was a pretty dramatic change. It happened almost overnight. We were doing a ton of work and don't have employees but I do source out to a lot of vendors who now are also being cut," says Conner.

Assemblyman Jim Patterson says the federal assistance will be a lifesaving lifeline to help put food on the table for those who typically live by contracts, appointments, and paycheck to paycheck.

"We've made these promises to people, we have to deliver on the implementation of it. These people are desperate and they are at their wits' end, quite frankly," Patterson says.

Typically those who are self-employed or freelancers can't apply for unemployment since they don't pay those taxes.

However, this bill creates a temporary assistance program to pay workers $450 a week plus an additional $600 for some.

"They've been left out, they are now in, but the process is going to take far too long. These are the ones that are most vulnerable because you know they are really basically living from contact to contract, from special project to special project," says Patterson.

The US Bureau of Economic Analysis estimates one in four Americans work in the gig economy. The bill includes many realtors, daycare providers, housekeepers, Uber and Lyft drivers, and countless others.

Since it could be more than a month before the pandemic unemployment checks start arriving locally, Patterson hopes the governor steps in to expedite the process for those who were forced out of work and living on little.
Copyright © 2020 KFSN-TV. All Rights Reserved.