California Beefing Up Unemployment Department
Governor Announces New Initiatives to Support California Workers
At Gov. Gavin Newsom’s direction through Executive Order, the Employment Development Department (EDD) will launch a new call center on Monday that will operate 7 days a week from 8:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m. The Unemployment Insurance Branch will be upstaffed with 1,340 employees, including 740 EDD employees and 600 employees from across state government. The Governor also directs EDD to expedite access to the Work Share program to avert layoffs.
The EDD will also set up a one-stop shop for individuals applying for unemployment insurance and the new federal Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA) program starting April 28. The PUA will provide federally funded benefits distinct from UI program for certain individuals out of work or partially unemployed due to COVID-19, including self-employed, individuals who may be employees but who lack sufficient work history and independent contractors. It was reported by POLITICO that self-employed and contract workers will still have to wait another two weeks to apply for federal unemployment relief but processing of payments will occur a day or two later.
The Governor noted the new PUA system is not to be used to misclassify workers and push back against new worker protections that were enacted with his signing of AB 5.
Executive Order Signed
In addition to the PUA system, Newsom announced he signed an Executive Order to increase the time to creation and development of employment insurance, otherwise known as work-share programs.
Governor Newsom also announced an unprecedented $125 million in disaster relief assistance for working Californians. This first in the nation, statewide public-private partnership will provide financial support to undocumented immigrants impacted by COVID-19. California will provide $75 million in disaster relief assistance, and philanthropic partners have committed to raising an additional $50 million.
The $75 million Disaster Relief Fund will support undocumented Californians impacted by COVID-19 who are ineligible for unemployment insurance benefits and disaster relief, including the CARES Act, due to their immigration status. Approximately 150,000 undocumented adult Californians will receive a one-time cash benefit of $500 per adult with a cap of $1,000 per household. Those interested in supporting this fund can donate at www.immigrantfundCA.org.