California passes new legislation that will kill the freelance writing industry

by Ethan Huff

Come January 1st, independent contractors in California are going to have a much more difficult time making the same type of living they do right now. That’s because a new law will come into effect that redefines the word “employee” in such a way as to basically kill off the so-called “gig economy” in the Golden State.

Assembly Bill 5, or AB 5, will mandate that all working Californians be designated as employees of an employer unless they can show that the work they perform meets a strict set of criteria established by the California Supreme Court, including that their duties aren’t part of a company’s “core business.”

If someone who works for himself is directed by a “boss” to perform his work a certain way, or if this same worker has not established his own independent trader or business outside of the duties directed by his “boss,” then these are two other failed criteria that would land this worker in the “employee” category rather than the “independent contractor” category.

The Los Angeles Times says that AB 5 will “raise the bar for companies that otherwise might rely on freelance or contract work.” The paper also claims that the bill is “arguably the strongest of its kind in the nation” because it gives “the state and cities the right to file suit against companies over misclassification, overriding the arbitration agreement that many businesses use to shield themselves from worker complaints.”

“The new law’s supporters point to audits conducted by state employment officials that found almost 500,000 workers were wrongly treated as independent contractors,” the Times further reported. “Much of the early legislative debate on the bill centered on low-wage sectors of the California economy.”

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