Coalition successful in efforts to protect freelancers in AB 5

By Kendall Powell

In April 2018, the California Supreme Court issued a ruling called the Dynamex decision, which in effect made it illegal for companies to hire independent contractors to perform tasks related to the main business of the company that an employee would otherwise perform.

In an effort to codify Dynamex into law, California Assemblywoman Lorena Gonzalez introduced Assembly Bill 5 (AB 5).

This was good for the Dynamex delivery drivers who had sued for better worker benefits and protections. However, the ruling caused some alarm among freelance creatives such as journalists, authors, photographers and graphic designers who have always worked as contractors for different clients, but who also do the type of editorial work that is the main business of their publishers.

Toward the end of 2018, NASW had heard of several science writing outlets, including Reuters, PLoS, and public radio stations in California that had dropped some of their freelancers out of concern over the ruling. This article in Columbia Journalism Review offers a good overview of the situation.

Over the past several months, the National Writers Union (NWU) and other groups supporting creative freelancers have advocated for a legislative fix to the problem. The final bill language of AB 5, approved by the legislature on September 12, includes specific protections for freelance writers and photographers that will (mostly) allow them to continue to work independently.

Read an update on those protections from NWU.

Hero image by Goran Ivos on Unsplash

Sep. 17, 2019

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