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Colorado Accepting Unemployment Claims from Gig Workers, Self Employed

Starting this week new categories of workers can file for unemployment with the state thanks to provisions in the CARES act. KDNK’s Lucas Turner has more.

Before the COVID-19 pandemic, you probably heard that unemployment in the United States had fallen to historic lows. But what you may not have heard was that many the of new jobs created since the end of the great recession were gig workers, independent contractors, and the self-employed.

These workers don’t normally qualify for many of the benefits of W2 or salaried employees. Benefits like health insurance, paid leave and overtime. But for now, they’re getting at least one thing they didn’t have before -- unemployment insurance.

Under the CARES act, many types of workers who were not previously eligible can receive a $600 per week pandemic unemployment assistance benefit. This includes independent contractors, people who receive 1099’s and even small business owners who file IRS 1040 documents.

Given the record number of workers now filing for unemployment, Colorado’s Department of Labor and Employment established a brand new online system for handling claims, and set up a new 80 person remote call center that came online Monday. They also held virtual town halls in English and Spanish Monday morning to answer specific questions.

Many self-employed workers have already filed unemployment claims, but many were rejected or still waiting on a response. CDLE officials instructed anyone in this situation to reapply, now that pandemic unemployment assistance benefits are available.

Workers who already qualified for standard unemployment insurance from the state do not need to take additional action to receive the federal $600 per week payment. It will be applied automatically. Self-employed individuals and gig workers who plan to apply for unemployment should be prepared with the appropriate documentation.

Since many people who are self-employed are also business owners, some have expressed confusion about whether they can receive money for their business under the federal paycheck protection program while also getting unemployment benefits, state officials say no.

Officials from Colorado’s department of labor and employment also say the new system has been tested to handle thousands of claims per hour, but expected high volumes mean it could still load slowly, especially in the next few days.

Monday's town halls also feature information on getting a new PIN number, how to reset passwords, and more on self-employed/gig workers. More information is at COLORADOUI.GOV

Or you can call toll-free at 1-800-388-5515.

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