New Bill Would Exempt Dozens Of Professions From AB 5

Kenneth Martinson checks his driving apps before starting to work in Palm Springs during the first weekend of Coachella, April, 13, 2019.
Photo credit Zoe Meyers/The Desert Sun
By KCBS All News 106.9FM and 740AM

There's relief this morning for musicians, interpreters and other workers who worried they were inadvertently targeted by a law meant to protect gig workers.

A clean-up bill has now sailed through the California Legislature that allows dozens of professions that were caught up in AB 5 to once again be considered independent contractors under previous rules. The new bill allows these professions to be hired by an intermediary without having to be classified as employees.

This means agencies that help freelancers find jobs but do not directly supervise them can continue to contract with them. A wedding planner, for example, can contract vendors like musicians or photographers.

"If we didn’t have the cleanup bill then the musician working a gig on the side – a couple that is getting married would have to pay employment taxes for them, they’d have to pay unemployment insurance and it would make it cost prohibitive to hire them," explained Michael LeRoy, professor of labor at the University of Illinois.

These categories of workers were never the intended target of AB 5, so the cleanup bill passed through both the state Senate and Assembly without much controversy Monday, and was authored by Assemblymember Lorena Gonzalez, who also wrote AB 5.

AB 5, on the other hand, has sparked a legal battle that has yet to be resolved. Uber and Lyft are pushing a November ballot measure that would allow their drivers to remain as independent contractors.