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Covid-19 Unemployment Support for Models in Fashion’s Major Capitals

April 06, 2020

Dear Ubooker models,


We hope that you are all staying safe and well. 

The Covid-19 pandemic has hit all industries hard and we wanted to share with you what we know about unemployment benefits for freelancers/self-employed in the countries that hold the fashion capitals of the world: USA, UK, France, Italy and Germany.


Tax paying freelancers who earned less than $75,000 in 2019 will receive a one time check in the amount of $1,200. Those who earned more than $75,000 in 2019 will see their check amounts reduced by $5 for every $100 of income above the $75,000 limit. Accordingly, the payment decreases to $0 for anyone who earned $99,000 or more in 2019.

Non-citizens with a valid Social Security number who live and work in the United States will be eligible for stimulus checks. That includes green card holders and work visa holders. These stimulus funds will not be taxed.

For the vast majority, no action on their part will be required in order to receive a rebate check as the IRS will use a taxpayer’s 2019 tax return if filed, or in the alternative their 2018 return. 

These payments are expected to be made electronically if possible. However, the Act states that “Not later than 15 days after the date on which the Secretary distributed any payment to an eligible taxpayer, notice shall be sent by mail to such taxpayer’s last known address. Such notice shall indicate the method by which such payment was made, the amount of such payment, and a phone number for the appropriate point of contact at the Internal Revenue Service to report any failure to receive such payment.”

Unemployment Insurance Provisions

The Act creates a temporary Pandemic Unemployment Assistance program through December 31, 2020 to provide payment to “covered individuals” who are not traditionally eligible for unemployment benefits, such as self-employed individuals, independent contractors, and those who have limited work history because they were unable to work as a direct result of the coronavirus (COVID-19) public health emergency. 

Federal law or pandemic emergency unemployment compensation. “Covered individuals” do not include individuals who have the ability to telework with pay (i.e., work from home) or who are receiving paid sick leave or other paid leave benefits. A person may receive benefits under the Pandemic Unemployment Assistance program for up to 39 weeks, which includes any week the person received regular pay or extended benefits under any federal or state program. The Act also provides an additional $600 per week to each recipient of unemployment insurance or Pandemic Unemployment Assistance for up to four months. There will also be an additional 13 weeks of unemployment benefits through December 31, 2020 to help those who remain unemployed after state unemployment benefits are no longer available

See these links with information about how to apply in the USA below, including links to the NY state government website and the NY state guide for how to apply for unemployment insurance. 

We recommend you speak with your accountant about your 2019 income to apply for unemployment insurance.



In the UK, chancellor Rishi Sunak said it will “pay self-employed people who have been adversely affected by the coronavirus a taxable grant worth 80% of their average month’s profits over the last three years, up to £2,500 a month”.


The measure is called the “Self-Employment Income Support Scheme” and will cover anyone who makes the majority of profits from their freelance work, and has profits not exceeding £50,000.


To qualify you must have registered as self-employed with a tax return for 2019, Sunak added, though there will be an extended deadline of four weeks from now for those who have not yet filed.


The money will be available from the beginning of June with payments backdated to March 1, and freelancers will be contacted directly, he explained. Until then, self-employed workers can access business interruption loans, or Universal Credit. Income tax payments will also be deferred until January next year.


Visit the links below for more information on the scheme and for how to apply





France pledged 45 billion euros in immediate aid for businesses and employees.

As models are considered employees with their agencies, you should now be able to apply for chômage partiel (temporary unemployment). As long as your agency has filed for chômage partiel, it's possible you may receive 70% of your gross salary (84% net).

To apply you will need to have your agency contract, your payslips/proof of payments such as your agency statement and all of your "attestation employeur" papers from the last 12 months so that the unemployment bureau can calculate your unemployment benefit. The "attestation employeur" is the piece of paper that you get at the end of each job documenting your work. You may need to ask for copies from your agency.


It is a little complicated and not guaranteed. We recommended reading this blog here for more detailed information on chômage partiel for models.


If you are currently freelancing as a model (usually without an agency), you may be entitled to a tax-exempt grant of up €1,500 in financial compensation.

Only businesses earning less than €1 million a year will be eligible for this aid package.

Furthermore, the business also needs to tick one of the two following boxes

  • Your business was asked to close during the coronavirus lockdown due to health reasons (as has been the case for many business in the tourist sector, restaurant sector and other)
  • Your income in March 2020 amounted to less than 70 percent of that in March 2019

Economy Minister Bruno Le Maire has said that all self-employed and small business owners will just need to make "a simple declaration" in order to receive the funds. This declaration form was made available on April 1st.

Businesses and self employed will also be able to suspend payments on rent, gas and electricity.

The government also decided to extend the traditional winter truce (trêve hivernal), which prevents landlords from evicting tenants during coldest months, by two months after the normal end date on March 31st. Anyone unable to meet rent in this period will therefore not face the fear of being evicted before May 31st.

Get more information here:





3.5 billion euros aid package, including subsidies for the self-employed and a nine-month mortgage relief plan for self-employed and other non-salaried workers who’ve seen their earnings fall by more than a third during the virus crisis. This includes a tax-exempt €600 payment for the month of March to self-employed or seasonal workers. You can request this payment if your income after February 21 2020 is 33% lower than it was this time last year.


To obtain the allowance, self-employed workers must submit applications to the social security institutions to which they are registered in Italy. Applications open April 1 and first payments will arrive by April 15. If you have not been issued a resident VAT number, you cannot apply for this grant.


See this links for more information: **Please note these are in Italian. Insert them into Google translate for English** 



The German government has created the The Emergency Aid Programme (das Soforthilfe-Programm) to help freelancers and small businesses. Self-employed people and companies with up to five employees can apply for a non repayable one-off grant of up to €9,000.  However, states may offer different procedures and payments, such as Berlin, which is currently giving out fast €5,000 grants to freelancers.

To be eligible, you must confirm that you have encountered financial difficulties as a result of the coronavirus pandemic and you must not have already been in financial difficulties on December 31st 2019.


You must be registered with a German tax office and carry out work from a German permanent establishment/address or a German management headquarters.

While the government plans to quickly distribute the grants, it will be checking in retrospect whether those who received them were eligible. That means that, if deemed that the coronavirus pandemic did not have too adverse of an effect on their business, this aid could be converted into loans. However, these loans will have a low interest rate since they come from the government.

Contact your relevant authority to find out more.

For further information, see links below:

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