An announcement from Governor Wolf’s office on April 10 stated “The Pennsylvania Department of Labor & Industry (L&I) is implementing new federal unemployment compensation benefits provided by the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act. The COVID-19 relief package temporarily provides an additional $600 per week, makes self-employed, independent contractors and gig workers eligible for benefits and extends unemployment compensation (UC) benefits for an additional 13 weeks. The federal benefits are in addition to Pennsylvania’s regular unemployment benefit, which is about half of a person’s full-time weekly income up to $572 per week for 26 weeks.”

The release goes on to note that L&I issued the first $600 payments Friday, April 10, and all eligible claimants that filed biweekly claims for the week ending April 4 and who received their regular UC payment should expect to see the additional money the week of April 13. For other eligible claimants who have not yet received a regular UC payment, they will receive the extra $600 the week after receiving their first UC payment.

Unemployment Assistance for Self-employed, Contractors or Gig Economy Workers

According to the Governor’s announcement, while the Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA) portion of the CARES Act also temporarily makes unemployment compensation available to self-employed, independent contractors, gig economy workers, and others not normally eligible for the benefit, these workers cannot apply through the department’s UC online system at this time, as the U.S. Department of Labor requires that PUA be tracked separately from regular UC. For this reason, Pennsylvania must build a new online platform to process PUA benefits. The expectation is that eligible individuals should be able to start applying for PUA benefits within the next two weeks. To read the full notice, click here.