Reforming Unemployment Insurance in the Age of Non-Standard Work

30 Pages Posted: 2 Apr 2019

Date Written: 2018


Unemployment Insurance (UI) is one the nation’s most effective anti-poverty and economic stabilization measures. Unfortunately, the number of workers receiving benefits has substantially declined in recent decades. This Note probes one likely cause of this phenomenon that scholars have mostly ignored: the rise of non-standard employment, including part-time, temporary, contract, on-call, and independent contract work. Like many New Deal programs, UI was designed to aid individuals with long-term, full-time jobs. It is therefore poorly adapted to a non-standard workforce characterized by low wages, uncertain schedules, and short-lived assignments. Indeed, the analysis shows that UI’s monetary eligibility criteria, non-monetary eligibility requirements, outreach mechanisms, and exclusions all disadvantage non-standard workers. The Note proposes reforms in each of these areas to combat this imbalance.

Keywords: Unemployment Insurance, non-standard work, gig economy, fissured employment, welfare state, public policy

Suggested Citation

Pilaar, Jeremy, Reforming Unemployment Insurance in the Age of Non-Standard Work (2018). Harvard Law & Policy Review, Vol. 13, No. p. 327, 2018, Yale Law School, Public Law Research Paper Forthcoming, Available at SSRN:

Jeremy Pilaar (Contact Author)

Yale Law School ( email )

127 Wall Street
New Haven, CT 06511
United States
(415) 910-2727 (Phone)

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