Am I a freelancer or employee? Reopening an unemployment claim in IL.
I've been receiving unemployment compensation in IL since I was laid off from a full time position in December 2009. While receiving this compensation, and searching for a full time position, I have taken on some freelance work (from a completely different company than where I was laid off). I've always reported any and all freelance income when certifying for my unemployment claims biweekly. Sometimes no freelance income, sometimes enough income to reduce my benefits, and 3 times enough income to knock me out of unemployment. I've reopened my claim twice.
During my recent third attempt to reopen my claim (at the local IDES office) I was told I'm now considered an employee. This seems untrue since the company is in a different state, I've never met anyone there, I set my own prices (on what I feel the market will bare), I set my own hours, I can accept or deny a project IF offered one, I'm not reimbursed for any supplies, I work out of a crude bedroom home office, and I have no idea if and when I'll get another project. I have worked freelance as a sole proprietor previous to my full time position (of 2 years) that I was laid off from.
My local IDES office said I was an employee because the guy who gives me directions for a project is considered my supervisor. Who can work on anything without initial directions? Any revisions are charged extra for. Because I sometimes need to meet a deadline, the company is considered to dictate my working schedule. Who gives a project out without a time frame? The time frame is discussed and agreed upon by the company and myself... I can deny the project if I can't fit it in or simply don't want it. Do I fear the company will not come back to me if I continue to deny projects? Generally yes, who wouldn't? I will receive a 1099, pay my own taxes and social security, and receive no benefits.
I was laid off Dec. 2009, took the first freelance project Jan. 2010, worked approx. 35 days (some full days, some just a couple hours) until now which is end of July 2010. I continue to search for full time work all the while. During a heavy freelance week, which I would go over the allowed pay (and
did not receive unemployment compensation that week), I sometimes had less time to do perform job search tasks.
The company I have done freelance work for typically works with many freelance creative people. It is typical for the whole design/creative field to use freelance help.
The local IDES office agreed to not submit my papers to reopen my claim for now. I fear this will cause a big hassel for the company if I stir the pot. What if I don't find a full time job and end up wanting to persue what many in my field are doing... freelance? Right now, no freelance, no job (still sending out resumes), and no unemployment benefits. Now it feels desperate.
You know what? It sounds like the State of Illinois is trying to force some UI tax out of this company .. at least that's what it sounds like to me.
States come down differently on UI benefits and "self-employment". This is something I was very cognitive of at the time I started placing ads and offering consultations .. I was so concerned about UI raising a flag if I had to report any earnings .. while I was collecting .. I stopped filing before the end of my 26 weeks and put an extension out of my mind. I just decided to go for the "self-employment" full steam ahead.
Each state has a multi-part test used to determine if you are an employee or not .. they also have different precedents which can stop benefits depending on when you begin the self-employment and some even have precedents which exclude a person from collecting depending on what the freelance work is. For example if you are a freelance writer in PA .. you're done for.
The tests used to determine the existence of "covered employment" are at the USDOL (state law comparison chartbooks)
It will only feel desperate until you decide what's more important to you. Work or freaking unemployment benefits. Take away one and you usually only have the other anyway.
I think they are debilitating to pure initiative because they are a ball and chain very similar to being on "probation" .. not that I have ever been .. but I had a kid on it once.
If you insist .. you can read the precedents for Illinois in the unemployment insurance law handbook