in California, can I be receiving unemployment benefits and start working as an independent contractor on a purely commission basis without loosing my benefits?

I was recently laid off due to economic reasons and was planning to apply
for unemployment benefits in California within the next few days. As I am
currently unable to find a position similar to the one I previously held, I am
considering to start working as an independent on a purely commission basis
no base salary. Realistically, there will be several months before I make my
first commission. During those months without any commission, do I risk
loosing my unemployment benefits in California? Once I make a commission,
I realize that my benefits will end but since the unemployment benefits would
be my only income until then, I want to make sure I will at least have my
unemployment benefits to fall back on during the months in-between. Any
advice is greatly appreciated. Thanks so much

Asked on March 21, 2018 under Employment Labor Law, California


SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 2 years ago | Contributor

In any week you do not earn a commission, you would be considered unemployed and could receive unemployment (assuming you are otherwise eligible). If you earn a commission--that is, one becomes due and owing to you, EVEN IF IT NOT PAID UNTIL LATER--you are working that week and, to oversimplify, would not be eligible for unemployment.  (You can receive unemployment if you are earning less in a week than the amount of unemployment you'd otherwise get, but your unemployment will be reduced by the amount you earn--again, this is oversimplied.) It doesn't matter if you receive your pay in a given week--after all, when people work full time, they typically are only paid every other week or twice a month, not every week. It's earning the money--having money become due to you in a week--that is considered working, not when you get the money paid to you.

IMPORTANT NOTICE: The Answer(s) provided above are for general information only. The attorney providing the answer was not serving as the attorney for the person submitting the question or in any attorney-client relationship with such person. Laws may vary from state to state, and sometimes change. Tiny variations in the facts, or a fact not set forth in a question, often can change a legal outcome or an attorney's conclusion. Although has verified the attorney was admitted to practice law in at least one jurisdiction, he or she may not be authorized to practice law in the jurisdiction referred to in the question, nor is he or she necessarily experienced in the area of the law involved. Unlike the information in the Answer(s) above, upon which you should NOT rely, for personal advice you can rely upon we suggest you retain an attorney to represent you.