Yes, Even ‘Freelancers’ Between Jobs May Be Eligible For Unemployment Benefits (And Other Surprising Situations In Which You May Qualify)

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Denis ZilberbergDecember 1, 2018Wrongful Termination

Unemployment insurance programs offer a myriad of benefits to eligible workers who have lost a job “through no fault of their own.” Oftentimes, workers in California overlook that safety net, thinking that they are not eligible or, for some reason, do not qualify for unemployment benefits.

Eligibility rules, trying to get a consultation from someone who knows how to apply for California’s unemployment insurance programs, filling out forms… “I know, I know, it all sounds exhausting and the opposite of fun, but trust me, applying for these benefits may be worth it, even if you do not think that you qualify,” says our wrongful termination attorney Los Angeles, California at The Kaufman Law Firm.

Fact: Generally, eligible workers can receive unemployment benefits for a maximum of 26 weeks.

Even freelancers might be eligible for unemployment benefits

The main purpose of unemployment insurance is to provide a financial safety net to workers while they are between jobs. But did you know that you may be eligible to receive unemployment benefits even if you voluntarily quit your job, were fired, or thought you were a freelance worker or independent contractor?

Yep, I know I got your attention on “freelance worker.” Gig workers and freelancers between jobs should not be missing out on unemployment benefits, because there are situations in which they may be able to receive these benefits. But we will get to that in a few minutes.

Only about 30 percent of unemployed people apply for benefits

Fact: In the last five years, the number of unemployed people between jobs seeking unemployment benefits has dropped by nearly 20 percent.

In fact, a whopping more than 70 percent of all unemployed people chose not to apply for unemployment insurance benefits in 2016. Unfortunately, more often than not, the reason why unemployed people choose not to apply for unemployment benefits is that they assume, often wrongly, that they do not qualify for these benefits.

But just one consultation with an experienced employment law attorney in Los Angeles or elsewhere in California can clarify whether or not you are eligible to receive unemployment benefits in your particular situation.

Let’s review some of the most common scenarios, in which people assume, often wrongly, that they are ineligible to receive unemployment benefits:

You quit your job

If you voluntarily left your job, you may still be entitled to unemployment benefits, but only as long as you had good cause connected with the work. Meaning: if there has been a substantial change to your original conditions of employment, and that change had a negative impact on you and/or your health, you may be deemed eligible for unemployment benefits.

For example, let’s say your employer reduced your pay by a third or 50 percent, or you are being required to complete more tasks than you can reasonably be expected to handle in your particular circumstances. In these situations, you may qualify for benefits.

You were fired (but was it wrongful termination?)

Most of you do not know this, but in order to deny you unemployment benefits after your firing, your employer will have to demonstrate evidence that you are guilty of misconduct or gross negligence. Generally, however, you may be eligible to receive unemployment benefits even if you were terminated.

Also, consider speaking to a Los Angeles wrongful termination attorney to determine whether or not your firing constitutes wrongful termination in California. If it does, you may be entitled to file a lawsuit against your employer and recover damages.

You’re an independent contractor or freelance (or so you were told)

It is true that independent contractors and freelancers are disqualified from seeking unemployment benefits, but it is not that simple. In order to be classified as an “independent contractor” or self-employed worker, there has to be no employee/employer relationship.

In many cases, California employers misclassify their employees as independent contractors or freelancers in order to avoid paying benefits. You may want to schedule a consultation with an experienced lawyer from The Kaufman Law Firm to determine if you are an independent contractor or employee. Just because your employer says you are not eligible to receive unemployment benefits, it does not necessarily mean that he or she is right. Get a consultation from our lawyers by calling at 310-981-3404.



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