Pritzker must prioritize unemployment benefits for gig workers

Senator Jil Tracy is calling on Governor J.B. Pritzker to prioritize changes needed to provide unemployment benefits for self-employed or “gig” workers, instead of making them wait another month.

Self-employed or “gig” workers make up 18 percent of Illinois’ workforce, according to the ADP Research Institute. Under the recently-signed federal stimulus law, these “gig” workers are now eligible for unemployment benefits, and states must modify their websites in order to review these claims. However, no modification has been made to the Illinois Department of Employment Security’s (IDES) website; therefore, no claims can be submitted.

Illinois lawmakers have been told the IDES website will not be able to accept these claims until May 11.

“When the Governor issued his stay-at-home order a month ago, many self-employed workers found themselves without employment, and a paycheck to pay essential costs like housing, utilities, groceries or medicine,” Senator Tracy said.

The 47th District Senator says that weeks ago, Illinois constituents were told the IDES website would be improved, and access would be enhanced. However, based on what lawmakers are hearing from their constituents, delays with the site continue, and frustrations continue to mount.

“Assistance has been made available for these workers by the federal government, but the state has not made the necessary changes to the IDES website to make the benefits available. These workers are told it could be yet another month,” Senator Tracy said.

A number of other states like New York and Iowa have already provided guidance for “gig” workers on their websites, and Michigan began accepting claims online April 13.

“Several other states have already successfully addressed this issue. Illinois needs to step up to the plate and make these self-employed workers a priority,” Senator Tracy said.

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