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Lawmakers Look Into Ways To Help Unemployed Gig Workers

Photo: btwien
Photo: btwien

Florida lawmakers are looking into ways to better protect gig workers and independent contractors during future unemployment spikes.

Department of Economic Opportunity Director Dane Eagle says during the pandemic when businesses across the state shut down, not all workers were eligible for unemployment benefits. Eagle calls it RA, for reemployment assistance.

“Typically a gig worker or a self employed person, a bar tender, or an Uber driver would not be able to be eligible for RA simply because of the way the statute is written. They do not have an employer who is paying into the trust fund."

Those workers were eligible to collect benefits under a federal pandemic unemployment program. But Eagle says that option won’t always be in place.

During a Monday legislative committee discussion, lawmakers talked about a potential option to let gig workers pay into the state’s unemployment trust fund—giving them the option to collect state benefits in the future. The change would require legislative action.