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

Answers:

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.


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