Congress is working on emergency relief efforts to help individuals and businesses impacted by the coronavirus outbreak, but Etsy said the self-employed were largely not covered by the current proposals.
Many sellers don’t qualify for social safety net programs such as unemployment insurance, disability insurance, or paid leave, according to Etsy’s Josh Silverman.
The CEO sent a letter to Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi urging them to ensure that any future COVID-19 relief package includes the nation’s microbusinesses and the self-employed.
He recommended Congress consider six measures to address their unique needs, including unemployment protection. “The self-employed are not eligible for unemployment protection. The federal government should immediately fund an unemployment protection fund for the self-employed and gig workers, which would allow them to receive benefits in the event of declining income due to decreased demand for their goods or services.”
Etsy represents 2.7 million creative entrepreneurs, 83% of whom are women and nearly all of whom run one person businesses out of their homes, according to Silverman – and he said Etsy sellers are not alone.
“All told, more than 57 million people work independently in the United States. Together, they comprise the emerging gig economy. These microbusiness, independent contractors, and self-employed individuals need an economic recovery package to help stem hardship due to COVID-19.
“Unfortunately, many of the proposals currently under discussion would not help these entrepreneurs. For example, they would not qualify for expansions of social benefits tied to employment, nor the disaster relief programs that target small businesses.”
The Etsy CEO ended his letter with the plea, “At a time of so much uncertainty, let’s not leave our most vulnerable entrepreneurs behind.” You can read the full letter on the Etsy blog.