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Jobless gig workers now able to file weekly claims for assistance

Updated May 23, 2020 - 8:09 pm

After a two-and-a-half hour delay on Saturday morning, gig workers, contractors and self-employed workers in Nevada can begin filing weekly claims for financial assistance online.

The Nevada Department of Employment, Training and Rehabilitation announced that it had launched an updated Pandemic Unemployment Assistance system online at the EmployNV website Saturday morning. The department had planned to launch the system, which is independent of the state’s traditional unemployment insurance system, at 8 a.m.

An earlier statement from DETR said the department had worked with vendor Geographic Solutions overnight on Friday and into Saturday morning to launch the new filing system but that it was not ready to go live at 8 a.m.

“We have been working tirelessly to provide this essential functionality of the PUA filing process. We know there is a great deal of interest and demand for weekly filing and expect our call center and claims portal to be very busy today,” said DETR Director Heather Korbulic in a Saturday statement. “Staff will continue to work, including the upcoming holiday, to ensure this functionality is available for Nevadans.”

The PUA filing system is one of three unemployment-related provisions under the $2 trillion stimulus bill approved by Congress that makes independent contractors and self-employed workers eligible for unemployment benefits. The assistance is also made available to gig workers — short-term or temporary workers who usually connect with customers using an online platform such as Uber, Lyft or Instacart.

Even though the updated system was operational on Saturday, a number of claimants have said they’ve continued to experience issues with the system.

Some ran into a message that told them they were not permitted to create weekly certifications at this time, since they “must allow 1 week between previous certification entries before completing new ones.”

DETR spokeswoman Rosa Mendez said claimants won’t be able to file for the week starting May 18 until Sunday. More advice on weekly filings is outlined in the updated PUA guidebook.

Other claimants ran into a message telling them they could not create weekly certifications at that time because they “must allow 2 weeks after registration before completing certification entries.”

Katie Taylor, a claimant who received the message on Saturday, said she was confused on why she wasn’t being allowed to file, since she filed her initial PUA claim a week prior on May 16, the first day the system was up.

“You couldn’t register earlier than that,” Taylor said. “So (if we have to wait two weeks), how can anyone possibly file a weekly claim right now?”

Mendez said each issue varies case-by-case and that she couldn’t address why a message such as the one Taylor received would appear. She added that Korbulic would be able to address more PUA-related concerns during Friday’s weekly press briefing.

According to the latest DETR news release, PUA claimants must be able and available to work, have prior earnings in Nevada or a job offer to work in Nevada and must not be eligible for any unemployment insurance benefits.

The first payments are expected to be made beginning Wednesday. PUA claimants can contact the call center for questions at 800-603-9681 between 8 a.m. and 8 p.m., Monday through Friday, and between 8 a.m. and noon on Saturday. Resources and updated information on the PUA system can be found online at detr.nv.gov/pua.

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