U.S. Rep. Adam Schiff (D-Burbank) and Rep. Judy Chu (D-Pasadena) recently introduced the Mixed Earner Pandemic Unemployment Assistance Act to ensure that workers who earn a mix of traditional (W-2) and independent (1099) employment income are able to fully access the unemployment assistance provided in the CARES Act.
“For many workers, the relief provided by the CARES Act is making a crucial difference in helping make ends meet during this unprecedented period of disruption. Yet due to the nature of independent work, particularly in industries like entertainment, many workers are currently excluded from Pandemic Unemployment Assistance because they earn a living through a mix of self-employment and traditional W-2 jobs,” Schiff said. “Our bill will ensure that mixed earners are no longer excluded from this critical assistance because of the nature of their employment and income.”
“The coronavirus pandemic brought the economy to a halt for millions. Fortunately, we were able to quickly respond and through the CARES Act put support into the hands of workers who need it. But our traditional system of supporting unemployed workers was not set up for nontraditional workers with mixed income, like the many artists and craftspeople in my district who supplement a W-2 with independent gig work,” Chu added. “There is no reason these workers should be penalized now for having a mixed income. I’m proud to work with my colleague Rep. Adam Schiff to make this common sense change to recognize the various ways our constituents earn a living and ensure they are rightly compensated for that during this crisis.”
The Pandemic Unemployment Assistance program created by the CARES Act provides unemployment compensation to independent contractors, freelancers, gig workers and others not normally protected by state unemployment insurance benefits. However, workers who earn a living through a mix of independent and traditional jobs are currently excluded from PUA even if they have lost a substantial portion of their income due to coronavirus-related disruption of their independent work. Due to the sporadic and unpredictable nature of independent work, many freelancers and self-employed workers in a wide variety of industries, and especially in music and entertainment, cannot access this crucial relief, Schiff said.
The Mixed Earner Pandemic Unemployment Assistance Act would ensure that mixed earners are able to access the same relief to make up for lost work that the CARES Act provided to those with more straightforward employment arrangements. Specifically, it would allow workers with substantial self-employment income to opt into the PUA program, which will enable mixed earners to receive unemployment benefits calculated based on their total earnings history from both wage and self-employment work.
“The entertainment industry is grappling with unprecedented job loss due to the COVID-19 public health crisis. As the industry works diligently to safely restart film and television production, entertainment workers are relying on unemployment benefits to feed and care for their families,” SAG-AFTRA President Gabrielle Carteris said. “The Mixed Earner Pandemic Unemployment Assistance Act corrects an unintended flaw in the CARES Act that resulted in affected performers receiving a fraction of the weekly benefits they are owed as taxpayers.”
For information, visit schiff.house.gov.
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