The Authors Guild has joined SAG-AFTRA and a coalition of more than 60 freelancer groups in asking Congress to fix the Pandemic Unemployment Assistance program to allow freelance workers who earn incomes from both W-2 and 1099 sources to receive full unemployment benefits. Currently, freelance workers who have some limited income from employment sources (reported as W-2 income) are excluded from the PUA and must accept benefits under their state’s regular unemployment programs. State unemployment benefits are calculated based on work history, which means that thousands of freelance workers who should receive higher benefits under the PUA system—because the bulk of their earnings come from 1099 sources—are only receiving unemployment benefits based on lesser, often supplementary W-2 income. Their full income is not being considered in calculating their unemployment benefits, and so they are not receiving between $2,000 and $28,000 in benefits that workers in traditional work situations do get.
The exclusion of freelance mixed-income workers from the PUA is a serious issue for the Authors Guild as many authors and creative professionals often supplement their freelance income with part-time jobs that are reported as W-2 income. In addition to working with the coalition of freelance groups, the Authors Guild is also reaching out to members of Congress to specifically underscore how authors are being denied PUA because their earnings are mixed from W-2 and 1099 sources. We will keep you updated on developments in this area. If you are an author who has been denied PUA for this reason, please reach out to us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
You can read our demand to Congress to fix the PUA here.