Total and Partial Unemploment TPU 415.25

Professional Work

A professional person can work either as an independent contractor, or as an employee. If there is a contract of hire with control exercised by the employer, there is employment. If there is no contract of hire, or control, there is no employment because the claimant is then self-employed. This holds true for all professions.

This was considered by the Board in Benefit Decision 5650. The claimant, a member of the Screen Writers’ Guild, devotes all his time to the preparation of stories and story outline for possible future motion picture employment. When the outline is sold, the claimant is engaged by the studio for the production of that particular movie.

The Board held that during the period of time in which the claimant is engaged in writing for future sales, he is self-employed, and said:

"We have held . . . that self-employment does not render a claimant ineligible for benefits . . . if the claimant does not have earnings from that employment in excess of his weekly benefit amount . . . Although the claimant in the instant case devoted full time to the preparation of stories and story outlines during the time he was unemployed, we believe that this was in the nature of self-employment, and that his activity did not constitute the performance of ‘services’ within the meaning of this Section of the Act and as the claimant received no remuneration for this activity during the period under appeal he was ‘unemployed’ within the meaning of the Act."

In Benefit Decision 6615, the Board considered the case of a professional person who was not free from control and therefore not self-employed. This claimant had been in the entertainment field for a number of years and spent three hours one day making a record. This record was cut for an employer under the terms of a contract of hire. In holding that the claimant was employed, the Board said:

"Section 1252 of the Unemployment Insurance Code provides in pertinent part that an individual is unemployed in any week during which he performs no services and with respect to which no wages are payable to him.

The claimant worked for three hours on August 13, 1959, for which he received wages, in accordance with the terms of his contract, in excess of his weekly benefit amount. Therefore, the claimant . . . was ineligible for benefits for that week."