Mar 25, 2020 - Economy & Business

Coronavirus rescue bill extends unemployment benefits to gig economy

Photo: Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

As part of the bipartisan deal Senate leaders and the White House struck early Wednesday, unemployment benefits will be extended to groups including gig economy workers, per a statement from Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer.

Why it matters: This is an unprecedented expansion of benefits to gig economy workers, who have been classified as independent contractors instead of employees by ride-hailing and food delivery companies, among others.

Flashback: On Monday, Uber CEO Dara Khosrowshahi sent a letter to President Trump, asking government to include gig economy workers in the stimulus bill.

  • On Friday, Khosrowshahi spoke with Schumer, and had reached out to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (though it's unclear if they spoke).

Details: Per Schumer's letter to Democratic senators, unemployment benefits would extend to four months (instead of the three originally discussed).

  • Workers would get normal benefits from their state, plus an additional $600 per week from the federal package.
  • This applies to employees, those who are self-employed, and gig economy workers.

Yes, but: It's not clear yet exactly how the math of the benefits will be applied to gig workers, as the exact details of the bill have not been released yet. As with traditional employees, the payout will likely vary for these workers based on various factors.

What's next: The exact language of the bill once released should show whether other gig economy requests, namely Airbnb's that its short-term rental hosts receive tax credits and loans, made the cut.

Go deeper: The gig economy's coronavirus test

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