For many people, working as a ride-share driver for companies such as Uber and Lyft is a full time job. This is one of the many professions that has been severely impacted by the Coronavirus pandemic and stay-at-home orders. As people are not out looking for rides, these drivers are left out of business and therefore without an income. However, unlike other people facing similar situations, many Uber and Lyft drivers have found themselves unable to receive unemployment benefits.
Individuals who drive for these ride-share services are classified as self-employed workers or independent contractors. Traditionally, individuals classified as such were not eligible to receive unemployment benefits. However, this changed under the $2 trillion federal CARES Act enacted back in March. As of now, the federal government is funding these benefits for the newly eligible Americans in part of the Pandemic Unemployment Assistance program. This is separate from each state’s traditional unemployment insurance programs.
While this exists, employment experts are stating that gig workers and self-employed individuals in many states must apply for the state’s traditional unemployment insurance benefits and be denied in order to become eligible to receive the funding from the Pandemic Unemployment Assistance program.
While ride-share companies are taking it upon themselves to try and provide financial assistance to help drivers, there has been significant miscommunication and criteria issues across the board. In addition to this, the issue of worker classification in these companies still remains, as many people are in search of the funding they need to sustain themselves during such a difficult economic climate.
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