A Closer Look at CA AB5 (California’s “gig worker bill”)
California Regulation AB5 was signed into law by Governor Newsom, effective January 1, 2020. The law, sponsored by state Assemblywoman Lorena Gonzalez, is intended to extend the protection of existing labor laws (regarding minimum wage, overtime pay, workers’ compensation, etc.) to some types of independent contractors by reclassifying them as employees under criteria defined in the new legislation. While a few current freelancer categories (e.g., graphic designers) have secured an exemption, some organized groups are advocating the bill’s repeal or amendment. At the same time, additional states and the House of Representatives are reportedly viewing AB5 as a possible model for their own legislation.
Both freelancers and employers are confused and unsure of AB5’s practical effects. Our members are starting to report actual and potential loss of work. Amidst the current legal fog, the law’s criteria for classifying workers and its limit of “35 jobs annually per client” for some gig work appear to have stimulated a noticeable preference among out-of-state clients to pass over California freelancers as a whole.
Our two attorney panelists specializing in labor law are William Sokol (Weinberg, Roger & Rosenfeld), who mainly counsels employees and unions, and Sharon Ongerth Rossi (Rogers Joseph O’Donnell), who mainly counsels employers.
With their contrasting perspectives, our panelists will cover pertinent background and details of AB5, as well as possible amendments being considered by our legislators. We’ll discuss what we editors can do right now to ensure our freelancing viability, clarify our status with concerned clients to retain our valued relationships, and continue to enjoy our livelihood.
Note: We expect members will briefly cite their examples as a way to identify concerns that could apply to fellow members and to guide our discussion…but this forum won’t be the venue for individual legal advice or for political strategizing to repeal or amend the law, accessible through other resources.
This event is a joint meeting of the Bay Area EFA and the Bay Area Editors’ Forum (BAEF)