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Pumping the Brakes on Anti-Gig Work Law

In September California passed legislation “to protect contract workers, specifically employees for companies such as Lyft, DoorDash, and Uber who rely heavily on gig workers rather than full-time employees.”

California Assemblywoman Lorena Gonzalez, a champion of the legislation, recently announced that efforts were being made to scale back AB5, which had resulted in the termination of many freelance writers and sparked lawsuits across multiple industries.

“In the next few weeks, we will be rolling out a number of asks, initiatives and bill language to help ease the implementation of AB5 and make clarifications to the law based on hundreds of meetings and discussions with individuals and groups,” tweeted Gonzalez, a Democrat who represents the 80th Assembly District, which encompasses southern San Diego.

The legislation, passed in September, was pitched as an effort to protect contract workers, specifically employees for companies such as Lyft, DoorDash, and Uber who rely heavily on gig workers rather than full-time employees. But such “protection” came at a high price. Freelance journalists and media creators got hit with arbitrary limits on how much they can write (35 pieces a year, for many).

Gonzalez, who last week told USA Today she feels “for anyone who has lost income” but does not support a full repeal of the law, said the decision was reached after “dozens of meetings” with workers affected by the legislation. The meetings included freelance journalists and photographers, as well as representatives of the music industry and visual media companies like Getty and Shutterstock.

While the decision to scale back AB5 is no doubt heartening to freelance photographers, musicians, and journalists trying to make a living, one wonders why they have to seek legislative permission from Assemblywoman Gonzalez and her colleagues in the California’s state legislature to work as they please.

Moreover, the revisions Assemblywoman Gonzalez suggest make no mention of the thousands of Lyft and Uber drivers impacted by the legislation.

While gig work may not be for everyone, it does come with perks—including independence and flexible scheduling. It helps many people make ends meet as they pursue their passion. While the government has certain enumerated responsibilities is determining how an employee works with an employer one of them? Individuals should be free to decide the nature of their relationship in regard to their work, be it employee or employer. That is the beauty of an “at-will” relationship, the danger is that of discrimination and/or retaliation. Should you have a question about your employment relationship please let Goldfinch Winslow know, so that we can assist you.

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