The Authors Guild Applauds Inclusion of Unemployment Relief for Independent Workers with Mixed Income Types in Updated Heroes Act
NEW YORK (October 1, 2020): The Authors Guild applauds the U.S. House of Representatives for including relief for “mixed-income earners” in the updated version of the Heroes Act, fixing a major shortcoming of the earlier CARES Act that left millions of American workers unable to access full unemployment benefits.
The Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA) program created by the CARES Act provides unemployment compensation to independent contractors, freelancers, gig workers, and others not normally protected by state unemployment insurance benefits. However, authors and other workers who earn a living through a mix of independent and traditional W-2 jobs are currently excluded from PUA even if they have lost a substantial portion of their income due to coronavirus-related disruption of their independent work. Due to the sporadic and unpredictable nature of independent work, authors and many other freelancers and self-employed workers in a wide variety of industries cannot access this crucial relief.
The updated Heroes Act introduced in the House yesterday would ensure that authors and other workers who earn income from both traditional (W-2) and self-employment (1099) sources are able to access the same relief to make up for lost work that the CARES Act provided to those with more straightforward employment arrangements. This remedy was included as a result of vigorous advocacy by a coalition of arts and culture organizations, including the Authors Guild, to draw lawmakers’ attention to conditions on the ground. The coalition is currently working to increase the benefit to $800 per week, and for the benefits to apply retroactively to make up for the 28 weeks when mixed-income earners received low unemployment benefits or did not receive any benefits due to the gap in the law.
Specifically, the updated Heroes Act will allow authors and other workers with substantial self-employment income to opt into the PUA program, enabling them to receive unemployment benefits calculated based on their total earnings history from both wage and self-employment work. It will extend $125 in additional weekly benefits to mixed earners who received $5,000 or more in qualifying self-employment income in 2019, in combination with the restoration of the $600 weekly payment.
We urge the House and Senate to swiftly pass the updated Heroes Act so that millions of struggling Americans and their families can begin receiving the benefits they desperately need.
About the Authors Guild
The Authors Guild is the nation’s oldest and largest professional organization for writers. Its mission is to empower working writers by advocating for the rights of authors and journalists. The Guild protects free speech and authors’ copyrights, fights for fair contracts and a living wage and provides an engaged and welcoming community for all published authors. For more, visit www.authorsguild.org.