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Resources for those self-employed but unemployed because of COVID-19

Barbershops and beauty salons are now closed because of the shelter-in-place order.

MACON, Ga. — Across Central Georgia, barbershops and beauty salons are now closed because of Governor Brian Kemp's shelter in place order. A beautician at a Macon salon says she was denied unemployment because she is self-employed. 

Janea Philips works at Fringe Salon in Macon where she rents a booth. When the shop closed, she thought, "What are we going to do?" With no income, she had to file for unemployment, but was denied because she is self-employed. So 13WMAZ spoke with a financial expert and checked with the Georgia Department of Labor to find an answer.

"How are we going to pay our bills? What are our clients going to do?" Philips said.

In March, Macon Mayor Robert Reichert shut down salons and barbershops to limit the spread of COVID-19. That decision left Janea Philips searching for help.

"There is no income coming in, but all of our bills are still due, I have two kids in private school, their tuition is still going," Philips said.

Philips tried to get relief by filing for unemployment but was denied. The State Department of Labor says usually people self-employed are not eligible for benefits, but financial advisor Sherri Goss says they can apply for disaster unemployment assistance, or DUA.

"The Department of Labor is going to announce the availability of DUA, so it is taking them longer to get this thing stood up than they understood," Goss said 

Right now, the state Department of Labor is waiting on "guidance" from the federal government before they start sending the DUA money. Independent contractors, people with limited work history, and people unable to work because of COVID-19 would qualify.

"You'll start getting this $600 supplement a week, and that is a big game-changer for people," Goss said. 

Until the money comes, Goss recommends getting a part-time job to supplement any money lost. If you do become employed, Goss says you will not be eligible for unemployment. 

"Papa John's is hiring 20,000 drivers, PepsiCo, Frito Lay plant is hiring, Walgreens is hiring 9,000, Walmart is hiring another 150,000 people," Goss said. 

We also reached out to the Georgia Department of Labor and they provided us this statement: 

CARES (Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security) ACT

The US Department of Labor (USDOL) held a national call on Thursday, April 2, to discuss the implementation of the CARES (Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security) Act. As you know on March 27, 2020, the President signed the CARES Act to expand unemployment insurance benefits and other economic relief measures aimed at reducing the economic impact of the novel coronavirus 2019 (“COVID-19”) pandemic and authorized $2.1 trillion in aid to various sectors of the economy. This economic relief package is in addition to the Family First Corona Virus Response Act.

CARES includes the following:

  • Provides for Federal Pandemic Unemployment Compensation of $600 weekly in addition to regular state benefits;
  • Extends state unemployment benefits by 13 weeks of federally funded benefits added to the end of regular state UI benefits; and
  • Expands eligibility for those not eligible for regular, extended benefits, or Pandemic Emergency Unemployment Compensation including self-employed individuals, independent contractors, those with limited work histories, and those unable to work due to the enumerated COVID-19 related reasons.

The GDOL signed all of the necessary agreements last Saturday to access funding for this program. The USDOL directed states to wait for specific guidance on implementation procedures for this federal program before distributing funds on behalf of the federal government. Commissioner Butler was insistent on the call that they complete this process as soon as possible that Georgians cannot wait a week or two for guidance on this bill and need to put food on the table today. The Labor Commissioner has asked Governor Kemp to call the White House to see if they can push the USDOL into action.

We will continue to process and release payments for regular state UI claims. We will act quickly to implement the new federal program and make these funds available to Georgians as soon as we are given the approval by the USDOL. We have been assured that we will be able to backdate any payments for all eligible weeks beginning March 29th. The GDOL is ready to act on these new provisions and has proactively programmed 95% of the platform in anticipation of the upcoming federal guidelines.

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FACTS NOT FEAR | At 13WMAZ, we’re focusing our news coverage on the facts and not the fear around the coronavirus. To see our full coverage, visit our site section here: www.13wmaz.com/Coronavirus.

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