New unemployment system coming soon for self-employed

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LITTLE ROCK, Ark.- Independent contractors, business owners and self-employed people in Arkansas are struggling with the changes brought on by COVID-19.

“We are still losing income not being at work daily,” said Jennifer Mullins, Hair Stylist.​

Currently those individuals are not able to collect unemployment. ​

“Basically we are just told to wait, just wait it out,” said Mullins.​

Jennifer Mullins has been a cosmetologist for nearly two decades, She worked at Salon Hue in Sherwood which was forced to close its doors on March 25th.​

“I’ve already received a letter from the unemployment office saying I am not eligible for benefits,” said Mullins.​

Traditionally people in this category would not be able to collect unemployment. However Wednesday during the daily COVID-19 update from Governor Asa Hutchinson, it was announced those rules are changing.​

“Going to build an entire new system to be able to process and handle these types of claims,” said Secretary of Commerce Mike Preston.​

Secretary of Commerce Mike Preston said it’s going to happen, but it will take some time.​

“We have to wait, we are probably about a three-week time frame for us to build out that system,” said Secretary Preston.​

“I don’t trust the time period because I was told three weeks ago, three weeks ago,” said Mullins.​

Mullins said three weeks is a long time to wait for people who have been without a job for several weeks already.​

“I’m not very happy about the announcement in the fact that it takes three weeks to set up the system and I do not feel he has much empathy toward people who are self-employed, who are not getting an income at the moment,” said Mullins.​

Governor Hutchinson said more than 110,000 people have applied for unemployment so far and by the weekend he expects that number to increase by at least 40,000 people.​

Mullins said she thinks the CDC should release guidelines for salons such as wearing gloves, masks and limiting the number of customers in a shop.​

This way, she said, some people can get back to work.​

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