Press Releases

Florida Congressional Members Issue Joint Statement on Unemployment Benefits for Independent Contractors, Self-Employed Workers

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West Palm Beach, FL, April 17, 2020 | comments

Today, members of Florida’s Congressional delegation - Representatives Lois Frankel (FL-21), Kathy Castor (FL-14), Charlie Crist (FL-13), Val B. Demings (FL-10), Ted Deutch (FL-22), Alcee Hastings (FL-20), Al Lawson, Jr. (FL-5), Debbie Mucarsel-Powell (FL-26), Stephanie Murphy (FL-7), Donna Shalala (FL-27), Darren Soto (FL-9), Debbie Wasserman Schultz (FL-23), and Frederica Wilson (FL-24) - issued the following statement in response to the state blocking or delaying self-employed workers from accessing the benefits they are entitled to under the federal CARES Act. 

“Floridians have felt the impact of the coronavirus pandemic on their lives, and too many have had their livelihoods interrupted leaving them unable to pay bills and buy food and other necessities. Despite our constant outreach to the governor’s office for weeks, the governor is just now telling the public that out of work self-employed men and women (including independent contractors and gig workers) are not eligible to receive benefits through normal Florida unemployment channels and that they will have to apply through a separate portal that has not yet been built and may not be ready for seven to ten days. This is cruel and unfair, depriving these workers of cash assistance that they desperately need and to which they are entitled,” said the members.

The members urge Governor DeSantis to quickly and fully comply with the relief authorized by Congress as described below.

There are approximately 1.16 million Floridians who are self-employed workers. Although they do not ordinarily have coverage under Florida’s unemployment compensation system, the bi-partisan federal CARES Act, signed into law on March 27, 2020, expanded unemployment eligibility to these workers. Under the CARES Act, self-employed workers who live in states that make an agreement with the Department of Labor will receive Pandemic Unemployment Assistance paid by the federal government based on their recent earnings and will also be able to receive the $600 per week Federal Pandemic Unemployment Compensation (FPUC) for 16 weeks through July 31, 2020 that all eligible unemployed workers should receive. Florida did enter into the agreement at the end of March. This clearly means that self-employed workers who have suffered lost income due to the coronavirus pandemic are eligible for two types of relief immediately.

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