State programs for small business owners, workers

by Kathryn Dunn |

With new state restrictions regarding operating during the coronavirus pandemic, Claremont business owners and employees are scrambling to figure out how to make ends meet. The state of California has programs in place to help the business community ride out the challenges.



To be eligible for state benefits, people who are self-employed must have made contributions in the past five to 18 months to State Disability Insurance (SDI)—payments made at a prior job also count. Payments to independent contractors and those who are self-employed are done so through an insurance program.

If you’ve lost wages due to coronavirus, visit and search the “Self-Employed/Independent Contractor” tab to find a benefit program that best applies to you.

Small business owners impacted by the pandemic who want to keep staff but must reduce hours can apply for the unemployment insurance Work Sharing program as an alternative to simply laying off employees.

The state’s Work Sharing program, as explained by the EDD, “helps employers minimize or eliminate the need for layoffs; keep trained employees and quickly prepare when business conditions improve; and avoid the cost of recruiting, hiring and training new employees.”

Businesses must meet 11 different requirements to participate—like having an active California state employer account number and reducing hours from at least 10 to not more than 60 percent.

If you are facing closure of your business due to coronavirus, the state also offers the “Rapid Response” program, where response teams from the state will meet with you to discuss your needs and to provide on-site assistance for employees facing layoffs.

Check with the EDD to see if you can enroll your staff in Work Sharing program by calling (916) 464-3343 or visiting



For people whose hours at work have been reduced or if your workplace has shut down entirely, file for unemployment through the state’s Employment Development Department.

Unemployment insurance can provide partial wage replacement to workers if losses relate to COVID-19. If the layoff is temporary, and you expect to return to work in the next few weeks, the state doesn’t require that you actively seek work each week.

“However, they must remain able and available and ready to work during their unemployment for each week of benefits claimed and meet all other eligibility criteria,” the EDD emphasized. “Eligible individuals can receive benefits that range from $40 to $450 per week.”

Check with your employer about his or her participation in the Work Sharing Program before applying for benefits. Visit and search “coronavirus” to get to the state’s webpage for more information on filing a claim.


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