Nobody ever really pretended that AB 5, which changed the rules surrounding when companies could classify a worker as an “independent contractor,” was ever aimed at any business other than Uber or Lyft — but it had serious negative consequences that were deeply felt in other industries.
Freelance writers living in California were suddenly unable to find work, and the limitations on musicians caused the Tahoe Music Festival to shut down after 40 years. Barbers, hair stylists, videographers working for websites, photographers who sell photos to newspapers and other media outlets and comedians all found themselves suddenly unemployable in industries that have traditionally relied on gig work.
What happened? Well, companies could no longer classify anybody as a freelancer unless they passed a three-prong test where the worker:
- Was free from the company’s direction and control as they performed their work
- Performed work that was outside the usual course of business by the hiring company
- Is customarily engaged in an independently established occupation of the same nature as the work for which they are being hired
AB 2257, which was signed Sept. 4, attempts to clean up some of the problems that AB 5 created by carving out exemptions to the rules (which only further highlights the fact that AB 5 was pretty much targeted toward Uber and Lyft in the first place). Unfortunately, the plethora of exemptions may make it harder for companies to understand when they can hire a freelancer and when they cannot — and it could make it harder for the average gig worker to know their rights under the law.
The more confusion there is surrounding the rules of employment, the easier it may be for an unscrupulous employer to take advantage of workers by misclassifying them. If you think that you may have been misclassified as a freelancer by your employer, it may be time to seek experienced assistance.