SC green-lights unemployment pay for jobless contractors, gig workers, self-employed

SC green-lights unemployment pay for jobless contractors, gig workers, self-employed

The State
April 24, 2020


Gig workers, self-employed workers, contractors and other South Carolinians will soon begin receiving emergency unemployment benefits, the Department of Employment and Workforce announced Friday.

DEW will begin accepting applications for the Pandemic Unemployment Assistance program as of April 25, nearly a month after the CARES Act was signed into law on March 27. The PUA program extends unemployment benefits to people who normally wouldn’t qualify for state unemployment benefits, such as gig workers and 1099 employees.

Through PUA, laid off workers will receive the a portion of South Carolina’s weekly benefit (capped at $326 per week), plus the $600 per week offered to claimants through CARES Act funding. The program covers claims from the week ending Feb. 8 to the week ending Dec. 26.

DEW encouraged South Carolinians who believed they qualified for any of the federal assistance to apple, even before federal funds started flowing into the state’s coffers. PUA-eligible claimants who filed claims within the designated time period will not need to file another a claim in order to access benefits, according to DEW.

The agency will retroactively pay out benefits starting with the week the claimant was unemployed due to COVID-19. DEW expects to begin paying out benefits within seven to 14 days once a claim is approved, according to a news release.

In addition to nontraditional workers, PUA also covers other categories of claimants, including people who can’t work because:

▪ They were diagnosed with COVID-19 or are experiencing symptoms and seeking a diagnosis

▪ A member of their household has been diagnosed with COVID-19

▪ They are providing care for a family member or member of their household who has been diagnosed with COVID-19

▪ They are the primary caregiver for a child who cannot attend school or daycare because it’s been closed due to COVID-19, and the school or daycare is necessary for the caregiver to work

▪ They are unable to reach their place of employment because of a quarantine imposed as a direct result of COVID-19

▪ They are unable to reach their place of employment because a health care provider has advised them to self-quarantine due to COVID-19 concerns

▪ They were scheduled to start employment or a new job but could not or are unable to reach the job as a result of COVID-19

▪ They have become the breadwinner or major support for their household because the head of household has died as a direct result of COVID-19

▪ Their place of employment has closed as a direct result of COVID-19

South Carolina began paying out Federal Pandemic Unemployment Compensation, which increases weekly benefits by $600 for previously eligible claimants, on April 12. The last federal program remaining to be launched in South Carolina is Pandemic Emergency Unemployment Compensation, which will extend the benefits of people who exhausted the allotted 20 weeks.

On April 8, Gov. Henry McMaster also issued an executive order allowing furloughed employees to receive state unemployment benefits.

For more information on PUA, see this FAQ sheet and this tutorial video from DEW.