Bill restricting contract labor passes state legislature

Rebecca Neipp

News Review Staff Writer

A bill restricting the classification of workers as independent contractors has passed both houses of the California State Legislature, and now awaits only a signature from Gov. Gavin Newsom, who has already expressed support for the bill.

Authors of the bill expressed an interest in extending employee protections and benefits to individuals who work in a part-time or nontraditional capacity. But opponents say that the bill will decrease worker flexibility and drive up costs for consumers.

Critics have also speculated that one unintended consequence of the bill is a reduction in the workforce, where the pool of individuals will shrink to a few who will absorb consolidated hours — which has been identified as one of the outcomes of minimum-wage increases.

“Over 2 million Californians choose to work as independent contractors, and AB 5 only protects certain industries,” said State Senate Republican Leader Shannon Grove.

“I am proud to have stood with my Republican colleagues in offering better solutions to protect workers in industries such as health care, transportation and newspaper carriers and distributors.

“If the governor truly believes in supporting a California for all, then he needs to do the right thing and veto AB 5.”

Grove had introduced an amendment to AB 5 that would have conformed California’s test for employment with existing federal standards and offered parity across the board.

“Sacramento Democrats continue to harm businesses by imposing strict limits on who is allowed to work as an independent contractor,” said Assemblyman Vince Fong.

“Californians who value the flexibility of working independently may no longer have that option with the passage of AB 5. Everyone who utilizes ride-sharing and food delivery apps may no longer have access to reliable and affordable services due to these poor policies that continue to worsen the business climate for everyone in the state.”

Story First Published: 2019-09-13