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Freelancers and other self-employed workers around the world are rarely offered any type of compensation when hard times hit. This is one of the major downsides to working for yourself. Coronavirus has changed this a bit, but not enough.
So many people need financial help now. Fortunately many of the world’s governments, along with private sector entities, are helping freelancers who are impacted.
I’ve curated this list of coronavirus financial assistance for freelancers and other self-employed people around the world, along with links where you can apply for this assistance. You’ll also find here links where you can donate money to various private entities which are helping freelancers.
I’ve included government aid where I could find it and private aid when it is not limited to only residents of certain states or provinces.
When I set about curating this list, I hoped I would find a great deal of assistance offered in many countries. Instead, I found not a whole lot of aid to help freelancers through this time of financial hardship, unfortunately.
The United States government, I discovered, has created the best financial assistance for freelancers and all self-employed people, by far. There are several private entities that are helping American freelancers as well.
Although there is not as much information out there about coronavirus financial relief for freelancers and other self-employed people as I’d hoped, I decided to publish the information I did find anyway. If you’re aware of any government or private assistance that I haven’t listed, please let me know in the comments and I will check it out and update this article to include it.
WORLDWIDE CORONAVIRUS FINANCIAL ASSISTANCE FOR FREELANCERS
The United States government is giving freelancers, as well as all Americans, a huge amount of financial relief.
Under the CARES (Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security) Act, a total of $2.2 trillion will be sent to American workers, including freelancers. There are at least three pieces of this law that apply to freelancers.
1. Checks and direct deposits – Money will be directly deposited in your bank account in the next several weeks. Individuals who earn up to $75,000 per year will receive $1,200. Married couples will receive $2,400. People who have children will receive additional funds. Workers who earn more than $75,000 will receive less aid.
Most American workers don’t have to lift a finger to get this money. If the IRS does not have your bank account information, you will have to give it to them, though. The IRS has now created a way for you to submit that information right here.
President Trump is pushing for additional similar aid packages to be approved in the coming weeks.
2. Small business loans – As part of the CARES Act, the U.S. government is also giving loans to small businesses. Even individuals who are sole proprietors or independent contractors are eligible for these loans. In some cases, you won’t have to repay them.
3. Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA) – Self-employed people have not been eligible for unemployment compensation until now. With the Pandemic Unemployment Assistance program, unemployment benefits are now available not only to employees but self-employed people as well. These benefits add a $600 weekly payment on top of each state’s regular benefits for four months. For many workers, that will bring the weekly benefit to $800 or $900 a week, depending on how much the state pays.
In most states if you are defined as a gig worker, you should be able to qualify for the state’s regular unemployment compensation. The amount and duration of this unemployment compensation has been increased by the federal government due to the pandemic.
To apply for PUA, go to your state’s labor department or equivalent website. Start the regular unemployment application process, and apply for the Pandemic Unemployment Assistance
Recording Academy and MusiCares COVID-19 Relief Fund
The Recording Academy® and its affiliated charitable foundation MusiCares® have established a COVID-19 Relief Fund to help members of the music community affected by the pandemic.
You can learn about applying for relief from the Recording Academy and MusiCares COVID-19 Relief Fund here.
You can donate to the Recording Academy and MusiCares COVID-19 Relief Fund here.
Self-Employment Income Support Scheme
Self-employed people in the U.K. can apply for a grant of 80% of their average monthly profits up to a maximum of £2,500 per month. This money will be paid in a single lump sum but will not be paid out until the beginning of June at the earliest.
You can read details of how to claim a grant through the Self-Employment Income Support Scheme here.
COVID-19 Film & TV Emergency Relief Fund
The Film and TV Charity and the British Film Institute with a donation of £1 million from Netflix are providing emergency short-term relief to freelancers directly affected by the closure of productions across the United Kingdom.
If you’re in immediate need of assistance, you can apply for a grant of up to £500 through the Film and TV Charity’s existing hardship fund, You can read details about eligibility and how to apply here.
The Film and TV Charity is currently deciding on the precise eligibility criteria and level of individual funding. They do know that the fund will be open to those working in production, distribution and exhibition. To be alerted when the fund launches, register for their emails here.
German federal government’s rescue package
The German government has approved 1.1 trillion Euros in aid, which promises to include one-person businesses, musicians, photographers, alternative health practitioners as well as small companies with up to ten employees. You can read details in German here.
You can read about how freelancers and small businesses can apply for the government aid here.
Berlin Low-Income Artist and Freelancer Relief Fund
A group of low-income artists and freelancers in Berlin is raising money through a GoFundMe to support other Berlin artists and freelancers who are in similar positions due to COVID-19. This organization will be offering small grants of 50 Euros to each artist and freelancer in need.
If you are a Berlin low-income artist or freelancer, you can apply for a grant from this fund here.
You can donate to the Berlin Low-Income Artist and Freelancer Relief Fund here.
Australian federal government financial relief
The Australian government is providing coronavirus financial assistance for individuals during the next six months. For the period of this coronavirus supplement, there will be expanded access to include sole traders, self-employed workers, casual workers and contract workers who meet the coronavirus income tests.
Everyone who is eligible for this relief will receive the full amount of $550 per fortnight. The one-week waiting period has been waived.
The best way to apply is to register your intent to claim on the government website here.
The Canadian government has allocated $82 billion to help workers, including self-employed workers, who have lost income due to coronavirus. Under the Canadian Emergency Response Benefit (CERB), you can receive $500 a week for up to 16 weeks. They will begin accepting applications on April 6.
The Canadian government has also made Employment Insurance easier to obtain. A new benefit is being set up so that independent contractors and freelancers who don’t usually qualify for Employment Insurance can receive benefits similar to Employment Insurance if they are impacted by coronavirus.
You can read about how to apply for the Canada Emergency Response Benefit here.
Local Relief Around the World
Coronavirus financial relief is also available locally. You can read details about a number of types of support for creative freelancers primarily in various European countries here.
There is undoubtedly more coronavirus financial assistance available in the world. If I didn’t list it here, it’s because I do not know of it. If you’re aware of any other government or private financial relief, let me know in the comments. I’ll check it out and update the article.
Cover image by Steve Buissinne