Colorado Unemployment for Self-Employed and Gig Workers

I just listened to a great interview on the The Ross Kaminsky Show with the Executive Director of the Colorado Department of Labor and Employment, Joe Barela, about unemployment benefits in Colorado. There are still some missing answers, but here are the highlights. Please don’t take this as law as there could be some things that were not correctly spoken or documented.

  • The system for allowing self-employed, independent contractors, and gig workers to apply for unemployment benefits in Colorado will be going on-line mid-April. The Department just received federal guidance on how to implement this last Sunday and are busy programming their systems to make the necessary changes.
  • If you are self-employed and already applied for unemployment, you will need to apply again.
  • Claims will be backdated to March 29, 2020. Therefore you will get a larger first check to make up for the back pay.
  • Colorado will also implement the additional $600 federal unemployment benefit that was part of the Cares Act. This is given to anyone who is on Colorado unemployment, even if the state benefit is only $25 per week. It is not clear if the full $600, or some part of the $600, is also given to those collecting unemployment for reduced hours or reduced pay. It was not clear when that will start but it sounded imminent.
  • The additional $600 per week federal benefit appears to be available to those already on unemployment before the Coronavirus and Cares Act was implemented. In other words, if you were on unemployment before the Cares Act was passed, you will still get the additional $600.
  • There was some confusion about the question as to what constitutes “self-employment” income. Mr. Barela seemed to indicate it was based on gross receipts and not net income (gross receipts less expenses). They are still waiting on guidance to clarify that. The answer to this will make a huge difference to many, especially if you have ongoing expenses, but no income to pay the expenses.
  • For employers who are nervous about whether their unemployment experience rate will be affected, there was some good news. During this period, the claims and resulting increase in rates will be borne by all Colorado employers. Mr. Barela referred to it as a “socialized cost” to be borne by all employers in the state. In other words, layoffs at your business will not be directly attributable to your business’ experience rating. However, rates will increase eventually. Rates will increase across all employers instead of being felt by just those employers who laid off staff.

I encourage you to contact the Colorado Department of Labor and Employment with specific questions or visit their FAQ page to clarify the points above.

2 thoughts on “Colorado Unemployment for Self-Employed and Gig Workers

  1. Cynthia Powers
    May 22, 2020 at 9:23 pm

    I filed for unemployment as it seemed I qualified for the Coronavirus and Cares Act. I am a substitute teacher for Cherry Creek School District#5. Normally, a substitute teacher does not qualify as I have not been laid off and still work as a substitute – but because of online teaching in the District, there have not been jobs for regular substitute teachers. My last substitute assignment was March 12, 2020. In addition, Spring Break was March 16,17,18,19 and 20 and substitutes do not receive payment for Spring Break. I have been unable to login to MyUI. I have followed all instructions and had a good friend help me with this and the result is as of this date I am still unable to log in. Like many others, I am unable to talk to a Customer Service Representative to explain my problem. I did write a letter on April 18, 2020 addressing my problems. I did discover that I may apply weekly benefits by telephone. But as of this date, I have not a reply to my letter of April 18, May 1, and May 5, 2020. One concern is that I did request taxes to be take out of pay. The second concern is that on May 4,2020 benefits paid thru direct deposit for weeks April 6 through April 10 and week April 17, 2020 were confusing and benefits paid thru direct deposit on May 8, 2020 were also confusing. Both deposits were separate deposits of $518, $756, and $518 on May 4 and May 8, 2020. I originally received statement that said I qualified $441 weekly benefits.
    I did send copies of the statement and the login attempts that would not submit and the notification that still still posts the message “invalid entry” when I try to login or send new password, etc. Thus, I am trying to make sure that taxes were taken out, problem with MyUI login, and that my Claims are covered under Cornavirus as I seem to be considered a “gig”. I am sorry to bother you, but I did listen to you on Channel 7’s 6pm news show and you were very helpful explaining the problems many of us were encountering. But I am still unable to login. Thank you. Sincerely,

    • Steve Trojan, CPA • Post Author •
      May 23, 2020 at 2:00 pm

      Thank you so much for reaching out. I wish I could be of help but this is an issue you will have to deal with the State of Colorado. Good luck and I hope you get a resolution!

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