New Initiatives to Support California Workers Impacted by COVID-19

Apr 24, 2020 | Community

S.E. Williams | Contributor

To assist the millions of Californians filing for unemployment benefits due to the economic impacts of COVID-19 the state’s Employment Development Department (EDD) will launch a new call center on Monday that will operate seven days a week from 8:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m.

The Unemployment Insurance (UI) Branch is also adding 1,340 employees, including 740 EDD employees and 600 employees from across state government. 

Governor Gavin Newsom has also directed the EDD to expedite access to the Work Share program to avert layoffs.

In addition, the state will launch a one-stop shop for individuals applying for unemployment insurance and the new federal Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA) program starting April 28. 

The PUA will provide federally funded benefits distinct from UI program for certain individuals out of work or partially unemployed due to COVID-19. This includes the self-employed, ​individuals who may be employees but who lack sufficient work history and independent contractors. 

Federal guidelines include gig workers and California’s gig workers will continue to be protected by state laws against misclassification in the administration of PUA. PUA benefits will be issued within 24-48 hours—not the traditional 21 days ​for regular UI claims.

“Many Californians are one paycheck away from losing their homes or from being able to put food on their tables, and COVID-19 has only made these challenges worse,” said Governor Newsom. “California is focused on getting relief dollars and unemployment assistance in the hands of those who need it as quickly as possible.”

The governor has also committed an unprecedented $125 million in disaster relief assistance for working Californians. This first in the nation, statewide public-private partnership will provide financial assistance to undocumented immigrants impacted by COVID-19. California will provide $75 million in disaster relief assistance and philanthropic partners have committed to raising an additional $50 million.

This commitment will support undocumented Californians impacted by COVID-19 who are ineligible for unemployment insurance benefits and disaster relief, including the CARES Act, due to their immigration status.

Approximately 150,000 undocumented adult Californians will receive a one-time cash benefit of $500 per adult with a cap of $1,000 per household to deal with the specific needs arising from the COVID-19 pandemic. Eligible individuals can apply for this support beginning next month.

According to the governor, funding from this program will be dispersed through a community-based model of regional nonprofits with expertise and experience serving undocumented communities. 

Grantmakers Concerned with Immigrants and Refugees—a network of foundations focused on immigration issues—has committed to raising $50 million to support direct financial assistance to families of undocumented immigrants through the California Immigrant Resilience Fund, with initial lead investments of $5.5 million from Emerson Collective, Blue Shield of California Foundation, The California Endowment, The James Irvine Foundation, Chan Zuckerberg Initiative and an anonymous donor, among others. Those interested in supporting this fund can donate at

California has also developed an immigrant resource guide to provide information about COVID-19 related assistance, including public benefits, that are available to immigrant Californians.

To keep up to date on COVID-19’s impact in California visit or


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