Nevada gig workers and independent contractors are getting a long-awaited lifeline.
The Department of Employment, Training and Rehabilitation said Thursday that gig workers, those who are self-employed and independent contractors will be able to file claims starting Saturday. First payments are expected to be sent May 23.
DETR, which oversees the unemployment office, has already created a separate page on its website for the Pandemic Unemployment Assistance program, which currently says that “the page is under construction.”
Nevada is one of dozens of states that has yet to process claims from independent contractors, self-employed and gig workers.
DETR Director Heather Korbulic said during a media briefing that Nevada is one of six states implementing their PUA program this week while at least 2o other states have yet to administer the federal provision.
Independent contractors, self-employed and gig workers can visit employnv.gov to file their claims but must wait until May 16, according to Korbulic.
“If you go to that page today, you will not be able to file a PUA claim,” she said. “The new system is independent from the standard UI system and offers a streamlined method for Nevadans to file their claim.”
The Alorica call center will transition to help gig workers on Saturday. Its last day to help callers with general questions will be Thursday, and it will be closed Friday for training.
Korbulic said that the call center will reopen Saturday and filers can reach Alorica at 1-800-603-9681. The phone number will go live Saturday.
The call center will be open this weekend from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. After the first weekend, operating hours will be Monday to Friday from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. and Saturdays from 8 a.m. to noon.
“It will be a dedicated call center for PUA-related questions, and they will be the primary claims adjudicators for all PUA claims,” she said.
But Korbulic said claimants should first file their claim online before opting to call Alorica as the department anticipates a large call volume Saturday.
A list of documents filers will need to complete their application includes Form W-2 or 1099, tax returns, pay stubs, bank receipts, ledgers, invoices and billing statements.
The department outlined those who are eligible for the federal program are:
* Self-employed, 1099 contract workers and gig workers.
* Employees whose wages are not reported for unemployment insurance.
* Employees who have not earned enough wages or worked enough hours for standard unemployment benefits claimed because of the COVID-19 pandemic.
* People who were unemployed or going to start work but could not because of the outbreak.
Filers must be “able and available for work as defined in state law,” have prior earnings in Nevada or a job offer to work in the state. They must not be eligible for regular UI benefits, Pandemic Emergency Unemployment Compensation and state extended benefits.
The agency said gig workers will be able to receive the additional $600 a week payment from the week ended April 4 to the week ending July 25, as offered under the CARES Act.
Korbulic also said payments will be backdated to the filers date of eligibility, which can start as early as Jan. 27. She said an individual’s date of eligibility will be based on information provided when filing their claim.
The department contracted with Geographic Solutions to implement the federal provision. The software company has also helped several other states with their PUA system such as West Virginia and Pennsylvania, according to the department.
While thousands of gig workers are able to breathe a sigh of relief as help is now on the way, some like Las Vegan Vince Fried have already headed back to work as businesses such as salons and restaurants slowly reopen for Phase One of Gov. Steve Sisolak’s reopening plan.
“I have to go back,” Fried said. “I need some kind of income.”
Korbulic said people in Fried’s position are still eligible for back pay during the time they were out of work and should apply.
Fried, an independent contractor and nail technician, stopped working in March after Sisolak announced the closure of nonessential businesses and casinos. Over the past two months, he has not received any income.
“I haven’t paid any bills in two and a half months,” he said. “So I need to work.”