As Bloomberg Law reported Thursday, New Jersey’s Department of Labor and Workforce Development sent letters to Uber and subsidiary Rasier LLC assessing a … “We don’t take any enforcement options off the table,” Ms. Su said when asked about the possibility of litigation. Independent contractors, the self-employed and gig workers like Lyft and Uber drivers are eligible to collect unemployment benefits under the $2.2 trillion coronavirus relief law. New Jersey’s tax bill is limited to unemployment and disability taxes, but opens the door to Uber paying a minimum wage and overtime in the state. The circumstances effectively forced the state to provide unemployment assistance to drivers that they may not be legally entitled to receive, employment experts said. “We are challenging this preliminary but incorrect determination, because drivers are independent contractors in New Jersey and elsewhere,” Uber spokeswoman Alix Anfang told Bloomberg Law. Jobless Claims by Uber and Lyft Drivers Revive Fight Over Labor Status. Some Uber drivers, Airbnb hosts and other gig-economy workers sidelined as a result of the coronavirus are set to receive unemployment checks, a major changed in … Some Uber drivers, Airbnb hosts and other gig-economy workers sidelined as a result of the coronavirus are set to receive unemployment checks, a major changed in … New Jersey also told Uber it got a court judgment requesting the company pay about $54 million in unpaid unemployment and disability insurance taxes, but it is not known if Uber ever paid up. In addition, Uber maintains automobile liability insurance on behalf of all U.S. drivers. But Uber and Lyft are contesting these decisions in many states and are not paying into the state unemployment insurance funds. Your Uber and Lyft driver will get background checks, but won't be fingerprinted. Uber Driver Filing for Unemployment in NJ Hello, I am currently filing for unemployment on behalf of my father. They’re expected to push to get a referendum added to the ballot next year that would exempt platform companies from the law. With fewer people moving around, many of you are earning less than usual. Allowing drivers to receive the new federal benefits rather than traditional unemployment assistance could help gig-economy companies like Uber and Lyft avoid significant costs in the future. WIRED reported in September 2015 that the California EDD had extended unemployment benefits to a California Uber driver that pre-dates the Ely case. Please note, however, UI minimum benefit is much lower than PUA minimum - $40 vs. $167/week. According to SF Weekly, last month Patrick Ely applied for unemployment benefits after he lost his access to Uber’s app. California’s move to aid gig workers may break federal rules. But Ms. Su said there was no way to expedite unemployment benefits for drivers under the traditional program without income data from Uber and Lyft. “I expect we may see more of this,” Shannon Liss-Riordan, an attorney who has sued Uber on behalf of drivers in California and Massachusetts, said of New Jersey’s tax claim against Uber. He cannot work for Uber at the moment given the extreme threat the virus possesses to him due to his age and recurring health problems. The New Jersey DOL has determined that Uber misclassified drivers at a cost of $523 million. “They need these benefits. For the week that ended on March 14, a total of 9,467 people working in New Jersey applied for unemployment benefits, according to the state Department of Labor and Workforce Development. DO I QUALIFY FOR FEDERAL COVID-19 RELATED BENEFITS? New Jersey, which has a much higher UI taxable wage base and higher tax rate, recently fined Uber for $530 million in unpaid UI taxes between 2014 and 2018, and $119 million in missed interest payments. Phil Murphy’s (D) administration. Drivers who moonlight for the companies to supplement income from other jobs are additionally required to report rideshare earnings for eligibility determination purposes as a result of the state’s determination that they are employees. The DOL in an April opinion letter said workers at an unnamed “virtual marketplace” aren’t employees for federal wage and hour purposes because the company acts as a “referral business” that links workers to new opportunities. Anwaar Malik, a driver for Uber and Lyft in Long Island, said he applied for unemployment aid in New York, the epicenter of the U.S. coronavirus outbreak, immediately after he learned that the CARES Act had become law. The notices mark the latest attack on the rideshare companies’ business model, which treats drivers as self-employed entrepreneurs rather than employees—a classification that deprives the workers of certain benefits. Uber’s costs per driver, and those of Lyft, could jump by more than 20% if they are forced to reclassify workers as employees, according to Bloomberg Intelligence. Across the country, state officials say they’re struggling to … “Not a day goes by when I don’t speak to at least two clients about how to enhance their compliance with independent contractor laws, in particular those with ‘ABC’ laws,” said Richard Reibstein, a business lawyer in New York. A similar analysis by officials in New Jersey said Uber would have faced a bill of $530 million for unemployment and disability from 2014 to 2018. In addition, Uber maintains automobile liability insurance on behalf of all U.S. drivers. We can’t guarantee anything for you, but we can definitely offer some guidance and advice. While employers are not required to make contributions to fund pandemic-related claims, they will have to make contributions after the crisis. If you are currently collecting unemployment insurance benefits and working for Uber, you are required to report the wage you earn on your claim form for week ending Saturday. While some Uber and Lyft drivers had successfully claimed regular unemployment benefits in California before the executive order, the process took months because the companies refused to submit income data needed to verify eligibility. © 2021 The Bureau of National Affairs, Inc. © 2021 The Bureau of National Affairs, Inc. All Rights Reserved, Uber, Lyft Being Probed in New Jersey on Misclassifying Drivers, California Governor Signs Labor Law, Setting Up Bitter Gig Economy Fight, N.Y., N.J. Uber Drivers Challenge Independent Contractor Status, Lyft Aims to Avoid Class Action in Misclassification Suit, Lyft Accused of Misclassifying Massachusetts Drivers (1), Uber’s Arch Nemesis on Driver Pay Sues Before New Law Even Inked, Most Gig Workers Won’t Be Seen as Employees, Trump Lawyers Say, organizational development and strategic planning, State says drivers are employees, not contractors. The New Jersey Department of Labor has assessed Uber for almost $650 million for failing to pay unemployment and disability taxes for its drivers. “Uber and Lyft, by misclassifying drivers, are harming not only the drivers but also the states and the public at large. Financial assistance is available for coronavirus-related causes of unemployment, and it applies from January 27 through December 31, 2020. In addition to California, at least three states — Illinois, New York and New Jersey — have deemed at least some Uber and Lyft drivers eligible for regular unemployment insurance. The recent New York Court of Appeals decision TRENTON – Uber owes the state of New Jersey about $650 million in back unemployment taxes, disability insurance and penalties, because the rideshare company incorrectly classifies its … But this is what happens when ultrapowerful app companies with an army of well-paid lobbyists and lawyers are saying they’re going to fight to the bitter end against workers’ ability to demand rights under the law.”. In response, we launched a new Work Hub in the Driver app, which can help you find more work opportunities—whether with other Uber services like Uber Eats or even at another company. His executive order made clear that the state law effectively requiring gig companies to classify drivers as employees still applied, entitling drivers to all protections of employment, like minimum-wage rules, overtime pay, workers’ compensation and paid sick leave. Given the number of drivers in California, the amount to cover unemployment payments would likely be in the billions of dollars. Lawmakers intended the law to cover Uber and Lyft drivers, but some labor law experts said the department’s guidance seemed too narrow. Gig employers—like Uber, Lyft, home cleaning service Handy, and food delivery operator Postmates—pitch themselves as platform providers that simply connect drivers and other service providers to customers. “This would be life-changing for thousands of drivers, to know that they will be earning at least the minimum wage,” Bhairavi Desai, founder of the New York Taxi Workers Alliance, told Bloomberg Law. In addition to California, at least three states — Illinois, New York and New Jersey — have deemed at least some Uber and Lyft drivers eligible for regular unemployment insurance. Uber Driver Filing for Unemployment in NJ Hello, I am currently filing for unemployment on behalf of my father. Bloomberg Law News reports: Uber and subsidiary Rasier LLC were assessed $523 million in past-due taxes over the last four years, the state Department of Labor and Workforce … “The states are caught in a hard place,” said Brian Chen, a lawyer who focuses on the rights of economically insecure workers at the National Employment Law Project, an advocacy group. But the state said it had few options after the ride-hailing companies resisted other benefits. If you already had a second job after hours – say as a singer, photographer or Uber driver, you can continue the work if you meet the following conditions: you are able and available for full-time work, you don’t substantially increase your participation in the business, and Uber and Lyft recently pledged $30 million each to fight a new California law that is expected to force them to reclassify drivers as employees. Does Uber effect your unemployment? Gavin Newsom signed an executive order on Wednesday directing the state’s unemployment agency to help workers like Uber and Lyft drivers collect benefits under the federal program, known as Pandemic Unemployment Assistance. That is going to hurt even more if they decide to go after that. Lyft or Uber drivers can work part time so some wonder if they will still be eligible for unemployment if they work on Lyft and Uber. The state’s determination is limited to unemployment and disability insurance, but it could also mean that Uber is required to pay drivers minimum wages and overtime under state law. We’ve made it a priority to get them out.”. U.S. Labor Department officials have emphasized that only workers ineligible for traditional unemployment benefits can receive the federal pandemic assistance. Reeling from a riot, Washington faces rising coronavirus cases. Since Oct. 23, the department also has determined that 65 drivers who listed Uber, Rasier or Lyft as their employer in unemployment-insurance-benefits claim forms are employees of those companies and therefore eligible to seek jobless benefits. With the CARES act, you will also receive an additional $600 per week until the end of July. That may put the state at odds with the rules of the federal program. “It’s not a very aggressive oversight agency.”. First, the unemployment board has been clear on moonlighting. Ms. Su, the state labor secretary, said the purpose of the new approach was to ensure that struggling gig workers could begin to receive benefits rapidly. If you already had a second job after hours – say as a singer, photographer or Uber driver, you can continue the work if you meet the following conditions: you are able and available for full-time work, you don’t substantially increase your participation in the business, and The companies had offered to institute minimum wages, portable benefits like paid sick leave, and some collective bargaining rights in exchange for being carved out of the new law. It may be a long wait. Please note, however, UI minimum benefit is much lower than PUA minimum - $40 vs. $167/week. “The companies being required to pay into the unemployment insurance fund will mean that they can’t just toss drivers off the app.”, To contact the reporter on this story: Chris Opfer in New York at firstname.lastname@example.org, To contact the editors responsible for this story: Terence Hyland at email@example.com; Jo-el J. Meyer at firstname.lastname@example.org; John Lauinger at email@example.com. Uber and Lyft drivers have lost more than 80 percent of their income as a result of the COVID-19 crisis. Uber drivers and other gig economy workers were promised unemployment benefits. The state labor department didn’t provide any documents in response to Bloomberg Law’s request for unemployment insurance assessments against Lyft. Uber has also pointed out that the state’s recent law doesn’t make drivers eligible for unemployment benefits on its own. Paying Back Unemployment in Other States. Labor Commissioner Robert Asaro-Angelo said in a prepared statement that “cracking down on employee misclassification” is a “priority” for Gov. 1. California has been in a standoff with the ride-hailing companies Uber and Lyft over their drivers’ status under the law: whether they are contractors or employees. Uber in April told the state labor department that it disagreed with the determination that drivers are employees and requested a hearing on the issue, but it is not clear whether a hearing has been scheduled. Uber and Lyft are very abusive and manipulative companies, and you have no protection as an independent contractor. The state of New Jersey asked for $650 million in unpaid unemployment taxes from Uber last year, claiming that they misclassified their employees. “People are in very dire straits,” Ms. Su said. The rideshare businesses also are on the hook for as much as $119 million in interest and penalties on the unpaid amounts, according to other internal department documents. The state labor department sent surveys to Uber and Lyft drivers over the last year seeking information about their work arrangements and tax status. I have read through all of the state’s unemploy m ent … Does Uber effect your unemployment? Ms. Su said that she had spoken with representatives from Uber and Lyft about the state’s approach but that the companies did not directly make the case for the action the state took. Andrew Stettner, an expert on unemployment insurance at the Century Foundation, a liberal think tank, said that the U.S. Labor Department could order California to desist but that it was unlikely to require the state to pay back money it had given to drivers. Each state will dictate how much you will receive per week but the stimulus package pays for at least $600 a week. On a website listing frequently asked questions by workers applying for benefits during the pandemic, it instructed gig workers to “list your gig employer as your last employer.” Workers who have employers would typically be eligible for traditional unemployment benefits and therefore ineligible for federal pandemic assistance for the self-employed. For 2021, the maximum weekly benefit rate is $731. This does include rideshare and delivery drivers. Uber Technologies Inc. owes New Jersey about $650 million in unemployment and disability insurance taxes because the rideshare company has been misclassifying drivers as independent contractors, the state’s labor department said. A N.J. lawmaker tests positive after being in lockdown in Capitol. “Many self-employed ride-share and delivery drivers intend to apply for loans and other federal relief available to independent contractors,” the companies wrote, and they “worry that making an inaccurate representation that they are employees” could preclude that, the email said. The state department of labor assessed those fees, however the matter has not been settled yet by the court system. For the week that ended on March 14, a total of 9,467 people working in New Jersey applied for unemployment benefits, according to the state Department of Labor and Workforce Development. Individuals in New Jersey who have become temporarily or permanently unemployed due to COVID-19, have been diagnosed with COVID-19 or have symptoms, are self-quarantining due to COVID-19, or are caring with a family member ill with COVID-19 are eligible for unemployment benefits. Traditionally, Unemployment doles out around half of your salary or if you make over a certain threshold, you will be given around $500 (give or take per state) per week. Open Letter to State Unemployment Insurance Agencies on Uber & Lyft Drivers We are professors and researchers, each of whom has expertise relevant to the question of whether drivers of transportation companies Uber and Lyft are employees for purposes of state unemployment insurance. And this is just one state. “For those who say properly enforcing our unemployment laws will stifle worker flexibility, let’s be clear: there is no reason temporary or on-demand workers can’t be treated like other employees who work flexible hours for short durations,” Asaro-Angelo said. Some New Jersey drivers told Bloomberg Law that they would prefer to remain contractors and keep the flexibility to choose when and where they work. The classification of gig workers as independent contractors has led to another problem, now on full view in California. They’re also prepping for a similar lobbying battle in New York, where lawmakers are planning to take up gig worker legislation next year. Uber fell 2.7%, to $25.99, after earlier declining as much as 3.9% on news of New Jersey’s efforts. To learn more about a subscription click here. California widens efforts to relieve health care strains. New Jersey's labor department says Uber owes the state about $650 million in unemployment and disability insurance taxes because the rideshare company has been misclassifying drivers as independent contractors. Some drivers for Uber and Lyft who have lost work due to the coronavirus pandemic are accusing the ride-hailing firms of slow-walking unemployment benefits, though … The NLRB’s top lawyer, in a memo made public two weeks later, said Uber drivers are independent contractors, excluded from protections for union and other activity. The CARES Act will pay independent contractors unemployment benefits. The Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security Act expanded unemployment insurance to cover workers who are not traditional employees for the first time. Last year, the state of New Jersey sent Uber a bill for $650 million in unpaid unemployment insurance for its drivers. 1) Unemployment Insurance – Standard. New Jersey informed Uber in 2015 that it had obtained a court judgment ordering the company to pay about $54 million in overdue unemployment and temporary disability insurance contributions. TRENTON, N.J.—. Anwaar Malik, a driver for Uber and Lyft in Long Island, said he applied for unemployment aid in New York, the epicenter of the U.S. coronavirus outbreak, immediately after he learned that the CARES Act had become law. In November 2019, New Jersey fined Uber $649 Million for unemployment insurance fees, disability taxes and penalties. But there’s a catch in California: The state doesn’t typically consider them self-employed. The New Jersey DOL has determined that Uber misclassified drivers at a cost of $523 million. To receive at least $167/weekly in UI, your earnings for Lyft/Uber in the 18 months prior to filing for unemployment would need to be average around $367 per week - or $4250 in one 3-month period. An Uber spokesman said, “Congress fully funded Pandemic Unemployment Assistance for gig workers so that every state, many of which face historic deficits, could give these workers immediate financial support at no cost to their own funds.”. Drivers for ride-sharing services like Uber and Lyft can qualify for emergency unemployment insurance if the Covid-19 pandemic forces them off the road, the Labor Department said.. Early this month, the state seemed to be trying to process benefits for Uber and Lyft drivers under the traditional unemployment system. Bloomberg Law News reports: Uber and subsidiary Rasier LLC were assessed $523 million in past-due taxes over the last four years, the state Department of Labor and Workforce … We want to give you as much information as possible here, but because this is all so new, much of the process you need to go through to secure unemployment compensation is still in flux. To receive at least $167/weekly in UI, your earnings for Lyft/Uber in the 18 months prior to filing for unemployment would need to be average around $367 per week - or $4250 in one 3-month period. TRENTON, N.J.— The New Jersey Department of Labor has assessed Uber for almost $650 million for failing to pay unemployment and disability taxes for its drivers. The state labor department, through a spokeswoman, declined to comment on the Uber situation. Worker advocates say that’s a false choice rideshare operators offer to skirt their basic responsibilities. Some groups, like the California Labor Federation, had pressed the state to expedite traditional unemployment benefits for gig workers, an approach that experts like Mr. Stettner said they believed the state could take. To read more articles log in. In New York and New Jersey, among other states, Uber and Lyft drivers are classified as employees for unemployment insurance purposes. He cannot work for Uber at the moment given the extreme threat the virus possesses to him due to his age and recurring health problems. Uber and other gig employers are still trying to fight off lawsuits filed under more restrictive state laws across the country. That includes New Jersey, which uses a version of the “ABC” test to determine whether workers are employees or contractors. If drivers in these states receive federal pandemic assistance rather than traditional unemployment benefits, it could help reduce the financial liabilities of companies like Uber and Lyft by tens of millions of dollars after the crisis passes. Now, let’s get down to the nitty gritty. New Jersey last … Drivers for ride-sharing services like Uber and Lyft can qualify for emergency unemployment insurance if the Covid-19 pandemic forces them off the road, the Labor Department said.. Most experts believe that drivers will be deemed employees under the test. First, the unemployment board has been clear on moonlighting. The U.S. Labor Department did not provide comment for this article. You can earn these benefits for 39 weeks as long as you remain unemployed and cannot find a job. It creates a test that state agencies must apply before granting benefits, and which they have yet to do in many drivers’ cases. California’s action appears to reflect a shift by state officials. The department audits 1% of employers each year for potential worker misclassification. For uberX and uberXL in NJ that means valid insurance with coverage that meets or exceeds New Jersey’s minimum financial responsibility requirements, with the driver's name on the insurance policy. Uber, Lyft, and other online platforms unsuccessfully lobbied to stop a new law in California that uses a similar test to distinguish between contractors and employees. Uber Technologies Inc. owes New Jersey about $650 million in unemployment and disability insurance taxes because the rideshare company has been misclassifying drivers as independent contractors, the state’s labor department said. Uber and subsidiary Rasier LLC were assessed $523 million in past-due taxes over the last four years, the state Department of Labor and Workforce Development said in a pair of letters to the companies. Log in to access all of your Bloomberg Law products. Even though Uber and Lyft have not contributed any money to the Unemployment Fund, the Act allocates sufficient funding to cover all ICs. In order to classify workers as contractors, state law requires a company to show that it doesn’t control the work and that the service provided is outside of its “usual course” of business, or outside of the places of business where the services are otherwise performed. If you can, try to find real employment, otherwise you'll be without unemployment and with shit pay while under the thumb of a typical abusive and manipulative company.