California Legislature Grants AB5 Exemption to Writers, Musicians and More

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The California freelance law AB5 has made 2020 a nightmare for many of the gig workers it was intended to protect, by creating strict limits on how much work they could do. But those limits may be gone soon for freelance writers, photographers, and musicians, as the Chronicle reports that the California legislature has passed an AB5 cleanup bill  that exempts dozens of independent contractor professions from having to deal with the AB5 limits.

The new bill is called AB2257, written by the same Assemblyperson Lorena Gonzalez who wrote the original AB5. The revised version passed both the California State Senate and the Assembly Monday with no votes against it, but would still need to be signed into law by Governor Gavin Newsom. Newsom played pretty coy when asked about it in a press conference last week, saying, “I anticipate again, having the opportunity to sign that bill very, very shortly.”  

According to the Chronicle, the complete list of professions who would be granted exemptions to AB5 restrictions are: “Musicians (with some exceptions), translators and interpreters, still photographers, photojournalists, videographers (with some exceptions), photo editors, graphic designers, web designers, tutors, consultants, youth sports coaches, caddies, wedding or event planners and vendors, handypeople, movers, dog walkers and groomers, pool cleaners, insurance underwriters, manufactured housing salespeople, competition judges, landscape architects, performers teaching master classes, foresters, real estate appraisers and home inspectors, feedback aggregators.”

This does not affect Uber, Lyft, and Doordash drivers, or any gig drivers for the big tech companies. (Those companies are flouting the rules anyway). And there will still be the big Prop. 22 vote in November, where DoorDash, Lyft, and Uber all spent $30 million apiece so they could avoid giving their drivers minimum wage and basic workplace rights. Now that small companies can hire independent contractors again, it’s a pretty clear decision to oppose Prop. 22 to make sure big companies treat their workers better.

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Joe Kukura- Millionaire in Training

Joe Kukura- Millionaire in Training

Joe Kukura is a two-bit marketing writer who excels at the homoerotic double-entendre. He is training to run a full marathon completely drunk and high, and his work has appeared in the New York Times and Wall Street Journal on days when their editors made particularly curious decisions.


  1. Mo
    September 1, 2020 at 12:49 pm — Reply

    AB5 does not in itself “create strict limits on how much work [those previously working as contractors] could do”. When these people lose work or working hours, it is because the companies who are hiring them are unwilling to spend the extra money required to pay these people as employees. While AB5 is admittedly a blunt tool that has legit hurt many people’s ability to make a living, it’s important to also recognize that companies are ultimately the ones deciding whether to continue hiring these people under new law, and that they bear a large part of the culpability for people’s decreased income.

    • Hayes Valley
      September 2, 2020 at 11:14 am — Reply

      While that’s true for certain classes of gig workers, its actively false for most others. It’s wildly impractical to require that, for example, someone who submits 36 photos for publication to a newspaper in a fiscal year be considered an employee and given a minimum wage.

      That’s not how freelancing works. And that’s why this exception was needed. The fact that Sanchez herself is the one behind it is an open admission that the original AB5 was badly designed and drafted.

  2. CMC
    September 3, 2020 at 2:08 pm — Reply

    The bill’s author was Lorena Gonzalez NOT Loretta Sanchez — it’s right there in the embedded Tweet!

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