SACRAMENTO, Calif — Tuesday was is the first day self-employed, freelance, and gig economy workers could apply for unemployment benefits.
Sally, a self-employed Citrus Heights hair stylist who asked not to have her last name used, says while trying to apply for the Pandemic Unemployment Assistance program on the Employment Development Department website, she received a notice indicating the site was unavailable and to try back later.
"I got up at 8 o'clock and tried to apply only to find out that it said that it wasn’t unavailable," Sally said. "I waited about 30 minutes trying to apply again and it was still down."
She says when she was finally able to access the application, the system wasn't accepting her answers.
Daniela Urban is a local attorney and runs the Center for Workers' Rights. She says within an hour of the PUA program going live today, the nonprofit received dozens of calls for guidance.
"It can be tricky when you have a set of drop downs and you feel like you don't fit into any of those categories," Urban said.
Urban says the system being used for the PUA application is built for regular employees not the self-employed.
"Those who are able to wait for additional explanations should try to wait to the end of this week once some of the kinks have been worked out," Urban said.
She says if the EDD finds incorrect information on your application they could penalize you.
On a Facebook live last week, California Labor Secretary Julie Su said those who are serving penalty weeks for regular unemployment can apply for PUA just not at this moment.
"What we will do is mail you out a notice as early as May 2," Su said. She added that the notice will give those serving penalty weeks instructions on how and when to apply for PUA.
Follow the conversation on Facebook with Mayde Gomez.
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