California Legislature Grants AB5 Exemption to Writers, Musicians and More
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.
Musicians, translators, interpreters, freelance writers, photographers, and dozens more professions won exemptions from AB5, the state’s gig-work law, with Monday’s passage of a clean-up bill, AB2257.https://t.co/r7RUedh04v
— San Francisco Chronicle (@sfchronicle) September 1, 2020
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.”
After a year of meetings and in-put, we have finished our final amends to AB2257, the clarification bill to AB5. These changes to AB5 will be voted on in the senate by Monday and sent to the Governor’s desk. They will be enacted immediately upon signature.https://t.co/HXsiV1XhQa
— Lorena (@LorenaSGonzalez) August 27, 2020
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.”
Under AB 2257, which passed the state legislature Monday night, freelance writers, photographers, translators and musicians would be among those getting exemptions from AB 5 to continue working as independent contractors, rather than employees. https://t.co/5uh5NrORvn
— LAist (@LAist) September 1, 2020
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.
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.
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.
The bill’s author was Lorena Gonzalez NOT Loretta Sanchez — it’s right there in the embedded Tweet!