California AB5 act takes effect as a huge shock to freelancers

Independent contractors have many advantages over the nine-to-five-day workforce: more flexible and free working hours, access to home work, and the need to face office politics. At the expense, these groups need to be responsible for their rights and for their own plans such as insurance and retirement. On September 18 last year, California officially signed AB5, which came into effect on January 1, 2020. THE AB5 BILL REQUIRES TEMPORARY CONTRACT WORKERS TO BE INCLUDED IN THE EMPLOYER’S FORMAL HIRES, WHICH UNDOUBTEDLY HAS A HUGE IMPACT ON MANY COMPANIES THAT RELY ON THE GIG ECONOMY AND THE CALIFORNIA ECONOMY.

California AB5 act takes effect as a huge shock to freelancers

Photo by Eric Murphy

A part-time economy is an industry in a free market system where businesses and independent workers sign contracts. The Bay Area’s most famous companies that rely on the part-time economy include Uber, Lyft and Doordash. As one of the world’s largest economies, California is setting global standards for labor protection for other U.S. states and foreign countries to follow, said State Rep. Lorena Gonzalez, the founder of AB5.

Currently, drivers at companies such as Uber are contract workers, whose working hours are not limited by the company and whose pay is not affected by the minimum pay. After the implementation of THE AB5 act, companies such as Uber may need to include contract workers as full-time employees, which, intuitively speaking, would significantly increase the cost of doing business (minimum wage, insurance, vacations, employee benefits, etc.) for such companies, further affecting the employee management and pricing mechanisms of such companies.

Uber, Lyft and DoorDash, the three networks, have been lobbying state legislatures to legislate for a new category of jobs between employees and contractors, providing workers with job injury protection and minimum pay guarantees for a portion of their drivers.

As it turns out, the law’s rules are not limited to Uber drivers, but also limit the number of articles that freelance writers submit to publishers who make news: each freelance writer can only provide 35 articles per year to “presumptive employers.”

The new changes brought about by the law make California look more like a “dictatorial” dictatorship. There is no doubt that it can help unions, but it has left California’s freelance writers in a bind. In response, California’s freelance writers reacted dismissively, even angryly, on social media.

This particular law undoubtedly has had a negative impact on freelancers, and it is precisely because of the freedom and flexibility offered by this position that many freelancers have chosen this job rather than working full-time for a particular publication. I’ve been a freelance writer for N years, which allows me to have a steady income while taking care of my four children on my own. I can help the kids with their homework, watch them at home when they’re sick, or see an emergency doctor at any time because of the flexibility of their work. Contract employment also tends to reward those who work hard, although this is not always the case.

The details provided for in this bill are so absurd that the only explanation is that government officials have enacted laws just to make them. Most writers submit 35 articles every four to six weeks or so (some even in less time), even though the law allows writers to provide 35 articles for publication for each publisher, which is still a very arbitrary cap. There are even doubts about how lawmakers determine this number, let alone making such decisions within their purview.

In fact, the strangest, and even most immoral, thing about this law is that any legislator thinks they should limit the number of articles by any freelance writer, whether it is good or bad for them(which is clearly harmful), which is completely out of their interest or professional scope.

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