Providing educational resources and opportunities for all individuals involved in book and book-related publishing.

Bay Area Editors’ Forum | A Look at CA AB-5: Editors as Independent Contractors or Employees?

Hosted/Organized by: BAEF and EFA (Editorial Freelancers Association)

California Regulation AB-5 was signed into law by Governor Newsom, effective January 1, 2020. The law, sponsored by state Assemblywoman Lorena Gonzalez, intends to extend the protection of existing labor laws (regarding minimum wage, overtime pay, workers’ compensation, etc.) to some types of independent contractors by reclassifying them as employees under criteria defined in the new legislation. While a few current freelancer categories (e.g., graphic designers, musicians) have since secured various exemptions, some organized groups have advocated AB-5’s repeal or amendment. At the same time, additional states and the House of Representatives are reportedly viewing AB-5 as a possible model for their own legislation.

Both freelancers and employers are unsure of AB-5’s practical effects—it’s confusing. Our members have reported actual and potential loss of work. The law’s foggy criteria for classifying workers and its limit of “35 jobs annually per client” for some gig work appear to have stimulated a noticeable preference among out-of-state clients to pass over California freelancers as a whole.

Since the time we initially planned this forum in March 2020, a proposed AB-1850 is now moving through the legislature and may offer some “remedy” to AB-5 issues.

Our two attorney panelists specializing in labor law are William Sokol (Weinberg, Roger & Rosenfeld), who mainly counsels employees and unions, and Sharon Ongerth Rossi (Rogers Joseph O’Donnell), who mainly counsels employers.

With their contrasting perspectives, our panelists will cover pertinent background and details of AB-5, as well as further legislation being considered. We’ll also discuss what we editors should keep in mind for new and ongoing employer/client relationships as we continue to enjoy our livelihood as independent contractors.

Note: This forum won’t be the venue for focused individual legal advice or for political strategizing to repeal or amend the law, accessible through other resources.

Hope to see you there!

Zoom log-in details emailed to active BAEF members on 7/28/2020