The 2019 law known as AB 5 went into effect early 2020 and affected millions of independent contractors in the state of California, including many gig musicians and writers/journalists. Explains Yahoo! News, “The initial bill was designed to support a 2018 California Supreme Court ruling that classified more workers as employees, which entitled them to benefits and other perks denied to independent contractors. Those protections include a minimum wage, overtime pay, unemployment insurance and health benefits.”
However, it had unintended consequences as many businesses stopped using California-based freelancers “for fear they would be liable for retroactive fees and fines.”
Many in the creative industries rallied against AB 5, unbeknownst to them that a global pandemic would effectively cut their jobs anyway. Still, California Governor Gavin Newson signed bill AB 2257 this past Monday night, meaning “freelance writers, photographers, translators and musicians will be among those getting exemptions from AB 5 to continue working as independent contractors, rather than employees.”
Among the new features of AB 2257:
- It eliminates the 35-submission cap for freelance writers and photographers. Current rules dictated that California-based freelancers who contribute more than 35 submissions to an outlet per year must be reclassified as an employee.
- Translators, appraisers, and registered foresters are added to the “professional services” exemption. The exemption currently covers graphic designers, travel agents and marketers, among others.
- The law allows music industry workers to continue working as freelancers. The list of exemptions includes recording artists, songwriters, producers, promoters and many others.
AB 2257 is a landmark victory for freelance gig workers, even though the victory was against the same government that initially enacted AB 5 in the first place. A win is still a win.