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Self-employed and gig workers asked to hold off applying for unemployment benefits | News

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CHICOPEE, MA (WGGB/WHSM) — Thousands of workers in Massachusetts are applying for unemployment both through the state and the additional $600-a-week federal payment through the CARES Act.

For self-employed and gig workers, the governor has asked them to hold off on applying for those benefits.

The governor made that request last week saying they were waiting for guidance from the feds on how to implement the CARES Act for the self-employed and gig workers.

Gov. Charlie Baker updated the press Tuesday and said those benefits are near.

He was hoping to get the ball rolling on unemployment benefits this week for those workers.

“We’ve gotten some guidance from the feds about how they’re thinking about the gig workers, the folks who aren’t currently in the UI system and who don’t have a W2, basically have 1099s. And that has made it easier for us to start thinking about how we would stand that up,” he said.

Traditional unemployment from the state could allow a worker roughly half of their normal salary up to a limit.

Add in the federal CARES Act and it’s $600 a week benefit, and it could be the saving grace many local business owners need.

“Rent is due, bills are due for the salon,” said Giselle Cabrera, self-employed worker and owner of Dames Beautique in Chicopee.

Since she had to shut her salon down in the wake of the coronavirus, Cabrera said she’s had to find financial relief through means other than unemployment.

“I have tried to access Chicopee Center’s TDI grant loans as well as the disaster relief loan that are available,” she said.

Cabrera said she has remained connected to the Chicopee Center business community, all who are pitching in to keep each other updated with the latest information from the state.

Western Mass News reached out to the Department of Unemployment Assistance to ask about self-employed workers.

They said they’ve received guidance from the feds on implementing the CARES Act

“And will act swiftly to provide needed financial assistance to residents of the commonwealth as soon as possible,” a department official said.

“As much as any business owner can have a reserve put in place for their business, now this is coming to a situation where that money reserved has to be completely stretched out for family, for home and for business,” Cabrera said.

Some of that guidance from the federal government includes business eligibility, application requirements and exceptions, according to the state.

Copyright 2020.  Western Mass News (Meredith Corporation).  All rights reserved.

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