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Gig Workers Can Now Apply For Unemployment Benefits In Mass.02:10
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In his car at Costco in Dedham, Instacart shopper Shamar Martin looks at a double order on the Instacart app. (Jesse Costa/WBUR)
In his car at Costco in Dedham, Instacart shopper Shamar Martin looks at a double order on the Instacart app. (Jesse Costa/WBUR)

Gig workers, contractors and the self-employed can now apply to recover some income lost to the coronavirus pandemic, the Massachusetts Department of Unemployment Assistance said Monday.

Typically ineligible for benefits because they work outside the payroll tax system that funds unemployment insurance, these workers received special dispensation in the federal coronavirus relief package.

Their inclusion in unemployment programs, which are administered by states, has not been instantaneous, however. Massachusetts had said a system to process claims would be ready by the end of the month.

The new Pandemic Unemployment Assistance program provides up to 39 weeks of benefits. Workers must demonstrate that the coronavirus caused them to lose income.

"We are committed to doing everything in our power, and moving as urgently as possible to get workers impacted by the COVID-19 crisis the benefits they deserve," Gov. Charlie Baker said in a statement. "With the implementation of this new federal benefit program, we can better support workers not normally covered by the unemployment system, like those who are self-employed or work in the gig economy."

In recent weeks, more than 570,000 Massachusetts workers have filed initial unemployment claims — the biggest surge on record.

This article was originally published on April 20, 2020.

This segment aired on April 20, 2020.

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Callum covers the Greater Boston business community for Bostonomix.

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