ST. LOUIS COUNTY, Mo. ( -- With unemployment claims spiking, some small business owners are trying to figure out if they qualify for benefits.

Under normal circumstances some small business owners or independent contractors might not qualify, but these aren’t normal times. But unfortunately, getting through to a real person for answers on the other side of the phone isn’t so easy.

Jimmy Nguyen is the co-owner of AAA nail salon in Florissant. His chairs are empty, his employees out of work. Many of them don’t speak English and are having trouble navigating the Missouri Department of Labor website and Nguyen wants to help them.

“I’m trying to, but don’t know what steps I should be taking as an owner,” Nguyen said.

According to the Missouri Department of Labor, employers can participate in a mass claim filing. On the department's website, there is a link on their website to file.

Nguyen says getting a live person on the phone hasn’t been easy for any of his laid off staff.

“Every day I'm calling and calling haven’t gotten through once,” Nguyen said. "There's a lot of confusion for my workers and for myself as well."

Nguyen wants to help the laid off staff and is navigating his own uncertainty while still paying Keep in mind he’s still paying rent on a business producing zero income.

He said his landlord is unwilling to work with him. 

Erin Anello, a massage therapist, can’t operate her business, Deep Works Muscle Therapy.

She’s trying to file a claim with the State of Missouri. She has had no luck so far.

After President Trump signed the Cares Act into law and it created pandemic unemployment assistance.

According to the state, it could cover people that might not normally be covered, like independent contractors, the self employed and agriculture workers.

But the State of Missouri claims they are awaiting guidance from the US Department of Labor before implementing. 

Mike Louis, president of the Missouri AFL-CIO, said the state is moving too slowly to handle the situation and should follow the guidelines set forth in the Cares Act. 

"The governor needs to do what’s best for Missourians right now," Louis said. "That money is going to come. He can pay it back from wherever it comes from."

Louis also pointed out many Missourians that are successful with their claim might be surprised at how little unemployment pays in the Show Me State.

"The amount paid out is $320 a week. Only six states that pay less than that," he said. 

Meanwhile mall business owners are caught in limbo, like Arnello.

“I would like someone to say ‘don’t freak out we’re going to get this going for you’, nobody has said anything in Missouri about unemployment for me to get answers,” Arnello said.

News 4 reached out to the state to ask why they are waiting to implement something the president has signed into law. We are waiting to hear back.

Copyright 2020 KMOV (Meredith Corporation). All rights reserved

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