A potential amendment to California’s AB 5 law is sitting on Governor Newsom’s desk. If enacted, the amendment will allow certain professions to be classified as independent contractors rather than employees, notwithstanding AB 5’s presumption of employment status. On August 31, the California legislature sent AB 2257 to Governor Newsom for his review and signature. Supporters of the bill expect Newsom to sign it into law next month, especially given AB 5’s perceived negative impact on the “gig” economy during the pandemic. If signed by the governor, the law will take effect immediately.
By way of brief reminder, AB 5 established a 3-part test, known as the “ABC” test, that is used to determine if workers are employees or independent contractors for purposes of the Labor Code, the Unemployment Insurance Code, and the wage orders of the Industrial Welfare Commission. Under the ABC test, a person providing labor or services for remuneration is considered an employee rather than an independent contractor unless the hiring entity demonstrates that the person is free from the control and direction of the hiring entity in connection with the performance of the work, the person performs work that is outside the usual course of the hiring entity’s business, and the person is customarily engaged in an independently established trade, occupation, or business. This broad test places most workers in the employee classification. AB 5, however, enumerated a few limited exemptions for specified occupations and business relationships from the application of the ABC test, providing that the exempt relationships are governed by the pre-AB 5 multi-factor test set out in S. G. Borello & Sons, Inc. v. Department of Industrial Relations. (For more detail on AB 5, click here.)
AB 2257 will modify some of the current exceptions to AB 5, and create new exceptions to AB 5’s presumption that workers are employees. A close read of the bill’s text is necessary given the proposed amendments’ nuances and sometimes conflicting detail. We outline below some of the major changes contemplated by AB 2257, but if your business potentially falls into one of the enumerated exceptions, we strongly recommend consulting with employment counsel given the complexities involved.
If enacted into law, AB 2257 will allow the following professionals to be classified as independent contractors in California if they satisfy the Borello standard.