President Donald Trump signs the $ 2.2 trillion Coronavirus Aid Bill as White House Economic Council Chairman Larry Kudlow, Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell ( R-KY), House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-CA), Vice President Mike Pence and Representative Kevin Brady (R-TX) look on in the Oval Office of the White House in Washington, USA , March 27, 2020.
Jonathan Ernst | Reuters
The $ 2 trillion federal stimulus package promulgated by President Donald Trump on Friday, March 27 will be a lifeline for many workers and freelancers.
Known as the CARES law, the law takes unprecedented steps to include the self-employed in the social safety net. For the first time, it offers the self-employed unemployment insurance, to which they are generally not eligible. As stipulated in the House bill, it offers freelancers an additional $ 600 per week in UI, bringing weekly payments to a range of $ 800 to $ 900 per week when state benefits are added, to workers, including the self-employed , up to four months.
“It is an incredible victory, given that there is no unemployment insurance for the independents,” said Rafael Espinal, who recently took the head of the Union of Independents as executive director. “It will help inject cash into their homes.”
The Stimulus Package also offers self-employed and small business owners a $ 10,000 advance on an Emergency Economic Disaster Loan (EIDL) that does not have to be repaid even if the borrower does not. is not eligible for an SBA loan. The program offers loans up to $ 200,000.
Sole proprietors, ESOPs, cooperatives, businesses with no more than 500 employees, and small tribal businesses can apply. Under the EIDL program, administered by the US Small Business Administration, applicants will not have to submit a tax return and will be assessed based on their credit score. The SBA will provide funding within three days of a completed application as an advance payment.
No personal collateral is required for loans. The SBA is waiving the requirement that businesses have one year in business before the disaster, but businesses are not eligible if they were not in business on January 1, 2020. The bill authorizes $ 10 billion. of credits for these loans.
“I am very, very happy that the third of the American workforce that has been ignored for many years has been recognized as a critical part of the recovery of the economy after the pandemic,” said Carl Camden , founder and president and founder of the Association of Independent Professionals and Independent Workers.
But Espinal and other supporters of the independents say it is imperative that economic aid arrives quickly for the independents. Often in times of downturn, clients delay paying freelancers for work already done, leaving them little or no income for long periods of time.
Some organizations offer grants to overcome them.
The Union of Independents has just introduced the Relief Fund for Freelancers, which offers an emergency grant of $ 1,000 to freelancers for necessities such as rent and groceries that must be covered before help is provided.
Hello Alice, a funder, also just donated $ 10,000 emergency grants to small businesses, working with nonprofits and government agencies, with the goal of delivering them in three weeks.
MBO Partners, a Herndon, Va. Firm that provides administrative services to the self-employed and studies freelance workforce, spoke to senior executives from the U.S. Treasury and major U.S. banks to ensure that self-employed workers can access the resources available through the law, according to Gene Zaino, president of MBO Partners.
“The problem is going to be how do you make sure the money is going to the right people?” said Zaino.
At the moment, it can be difficult for the self-employed to gain access to unemployment, according to Steve King, partner of Emerging Research, a Lafayette, Calif., Company that studies the self-employed.
“I suspect that with most states it will be very difficult to sign up and get money,” King said. “Their systems are not designed to deal with the extent of unemployment that they are about to have. They have no system to deal with the self-employed. Although the good news is that the self-employed are going getting that money, it’s gonna be a struggle before anyone sees the money. “
Many independent professionals have been living off their intelligence since the start of the crisis.
Alicia Schiro, owner of Aced It Events, an event planning company in New York City, has seen much of her work stop since the coronavirus crisis. She quickly switched to focusing on online events and improving Zoom webinars run by her corporate clients, recruiting celebrities for certain events. “I’m not earning as much as I would, but right now it’s about survival,” she says.
Worried about the lack of income, Schiro immediately asked for a grant offered by New York City to small businesses with fewer than four employees who are seeing their income decline due to COVID-19. She has already received a grant of $ 1,300, but she still has a long way to go to make up for her lost income.
Some view the loan program with caution. Elizabeth Davis, a former construction technology engineer, now runs Shedavi, a one-man business selling hair care products in Atlanta. Although she is considering the idea of taking out a loan if she needed it, she reviews loan programs with caution.
“Borrowing affects your credit and you need to be sure you can repay it,” Davis says. “I’ll be careful with that.”
Elizabeth Davis, a solo hair care entrepreneur, says entrepreneurs should be aware that any loans they take out for disaster relief must be repaid.
Some players in the independent economy are trying to open the work tap to those who have lost other projects. Moonlighting, a platform that brings freelancers together with remote working, used the platform for free. “People are afraid and need something to replace face-to-face work,” says Jeff Tennery, Founder and CEO.
Once the crisis is over, some independent economists believe bipartisan support for providing unemployment to the self-employed could signal a new era for the self-employed – one in which the idea of providing a government safety net to people. outside of traditional jobs is becoming more common. .
“It’s quite a change in mindset,” King says. “They effectively, at least for the crisis, detached UI from employment. I don’t think we’ve ever done this before. They pointed out that people who do self-employment and self-employment are not of employees but should get benefits. “
He believes this could usher in a new way of classifying workers outside of the two categories currently used – W2s and entrepreneurs. “It increases the possibility that we will get a third classification or transferable benefits,” King said.
King believes California lawmakers won’t have time to tackle AB-5 during the coronavirus crisis, but it will put more pressure on the state of California to relax AB-5. The law, which came into force on January 1, requires that many freelancers be reclassified as employees. This has sparked a massive uproar from freelancers, many of whom say they are losing their jobs or been bankrupted because employers cannot afford to put them on the payroll.
The focus the stimulus bill has on the self-employed could change the conversation between lawmakers, King believes. “A lot of the protections they want for concert workers are suddenly covered by the stimulus law,” he says.
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