File a Claim: Entertainment Industry

Before you file for unemployment, review the following. Even though the filing process is the same for entertainment industry employees, this information may help with reporting your employment and income.

Note: For all claims related to COVID-19, select a Regular UI claim, not a Disaster Relief UI claim.

Past Claims

If you opened a claim before the pandemic and are now laid off due to COVID-19, reopen your claim using UI Online. If your claim is more than one year old, you should file a new claim. Make sure you note that your recent unemployment is due to COVID-19.

If you have a remaining balance, you can continue being paid using the available benefits on your claim. If you use all of the benefits on your claim, you may be eligible for an extension.


Be sure to include details about your last employer. We need information for every employer for the past 18 months. This helps establish the base period of your claim so you can get the highest weekly benefit amount possible.

UI Online Tip

Due to current events, we are experiencing a large increase in claims filed and are extending our staff resources to keep up with the demand. For faster service, use UI OnlineSM to file your claim, certify for benefits, and get payment information. You can also ask questions about your claim using UI Online by selecting Contact Us at the top of your homepage.

Thank you for your patience.

Last Day Worked

File your claim based on your last day of work. Your claim starts on the Sunday before the day you file. Your last day of work is the last day you physically worked, not when you were last paid.

Select the reason you are no longer working based on your situation. If you are not working because your contract ended, we consider you laid off. Select Laid Off/Lack of Work as the reason for separation. Be sure to include COVID-19 as your separation explanation.

Residuals and Royalties

To list your last employer as residual pay, use the employer on record. This is usually a payroll company. If you're not sure, use the name of the company who issued your paycheck.

To learn how to report residuals and royalties using UI Online, view Report Entertainment Industry Earnings (YouTube). Also refer to Instructions for Reporting Residual Payments and Holding Fees (DE 4005) (PDF).

Self-Employed and Independent Contractors

If you are solely a 1099 income employee, self-employed, or an independent contractor, you may qualify for Pandemic Unemployment Assistance. Everyone uses the same application, both for Unemployment Insurance and Pandemic Unemployment Assistance. The fastest way to apply is through UI Online.

Loan Outs

If you are incorporated as a loan out, there is no difference in how you file your claim or how you report your income. We will review your claim and decide if you are eligible for benefits.

S Corps

If you are only an officer of an S Corp and were not employed by anyone else, you can list the S Corp as your last employer.

If you are an officer of an S Corp and also employed by your own S Corp — you receive payment for your services, not just for being an officer — you can list your employer one of two ways:

  • If your payroll company handles unemployment payments and responds to unemployment claims, list the payroll company as your employer.
  • If your payroll company does not respond to unemployment claims, list the S Corp as your employer.

As an employee of the S Corp, report any income from out-of-state companies as in-state income, since the company did not pay you directly.

Income and Earnings

You don't need to wait for your last check to file a claim. File as soon as you become unemployed. If you haven't received your last check and don't know how much you made, estimate what you expect to be paid based on the employment agreement or contract.

Flat Fees and Deferred Compensation

If you get a flat fee per service, report your earnings when you perform the service. For example, if you are paid $100 for a day, report the $100 in the week you did the work, even if you are not paid until later.

Report sick days, vacation days, and holiday pay when you are paid for them. These payments are only deductible income if they are paid while you have a definite return-to-work date. If your layoff is for an unknown period of time, this income is not deducted from your weekly benefit amount.

Income From Another State

If you worked out of state, you will need to file your claim by phone or mail. Make sure you mention that you earned wages in another state. We will let you know the best option for filing your claim to maximize your benefits.

Beginning January 1, 2020, Senate Bill 571 allows employers to send entertainment industry wages to California instead of keeping them in the state that they are earned in. This means you can collect unemployment in California from all of your wages if certain criteria are met.


Pensions are not deductible from a regular Uunemployment Insurance claim if you contributed toward your pension or if the employer is not a base period employer. We may call you for more details to decide if the pension meets the requirement.

Additional Resources