SACRAMENTO, Calif. (KTXL) — Imagine finally getting through to the state’s besieged Economic Development Department in the middle of the COVID-19 unemployment crisis. Then, after getting approved, you find out a penalty will keep you from the cash your family desperately needs right now.
It’s a situation that has thousands of California families afraid for the future.
Chelsea Bryant’s living through that tough circumstance right now.
“I’m anxious. I’m kind of stuck between a rock and a hard place,” Bryant said. “If it wasn’t for the quarantine, then I would be at work, I wouldn’t need to be on unemployment. But with everything shut down, I have to go on unemployment and now I’m in a waiting period. I still need to function and pay bills and take care of my household.”
Bryant, a wife and mother, was booking service appointments at Niello Volkswagen in Sacramento.
Two years ago, she financially resolved an unemployment overpayment. But now, she is being told she has to wait out an associated time penalty. It’s time she does not have right now since she cannot look for work elsewhere.
More than 5,000 people like her have signed on to a Change.org petition begging the governor and EDD for some leniency in this time.
The Center for Workers Rights is one of a dozen agencies that have sent a letter to Gov. Gavin Newsom stressing that struggling families should not have to wait as long as seven weeks for help.
In addition to the governor, they have reached out to EDD Director Sharon Hilliard and state Secretary of Labor Julie Su Julie Su.
“We’re still in conversation with them and some legislative offices as well and hope that an executive order will come soon,” said.
By Friday evening, the state secretary of labor announced a fix to the penalty issue. Su revealed on Facebook Live that filers affected by this will get benefits without the planned time delays.
They just need to apply through the new Pandemic Unemployment Assistance program. Applications for that will open up on April 28.
The department will send a letter regarding all of this by May 2.