The Gig Economy Deserves Better

The recent passage of #AB2257 shows just how ill-conceived #AB5 was, and how little the lawmakers understood about the gig economy.

I may not write laws, but I write books.  When I submit a manuscript to my editor, I am thrilled when the suggested changes  are minor; I know I have done a good job at my craft.  Looking at AB2257, the law recently signed by Governor Gavin Newsom to address the problems with AB5, it  was replete with deletions, corrections, rewordings and additions to the original law.  Clearly, they didn’t do a good job the first time around, given the virtual rewrite.

AB5, the now notorious law enacted at the end of 2019, was intended to save many gig economy workers by effectively outlawing independent contractors. Since many app based businesses – read Uber, Lyft, Postmates and the like –  were taking advantage of independent workers, the workers  needed to become employees. Although the majority of independent workers welcomed the flexibility of contracting and were using the apps to  augment  other  income, the law passed and immediately the unforeseen consequences began to accrue.

Coaches, paper deliverers, musicians and photo journalists were losing their gigs.  One major publisher decided not to  use any freelance writers in California, just to be on the safe side. Even Mayor Willie Brown, who has a regular column in the San Francisco Chronicle was forced to rein in his opinions and offer them less frequently to abide by the law.

So now we have AB2257.  Although it maintains the ABC test of AB5 (for more information check my blog post here.)  it

  • Increases the number of industries exempted from the law from 50 to 65. Call me crazy, but if a law needs to exempt 65 industries, can it be said to be well constructed? These new exemptions include the music industry, which is ironic, since the term gig started with musicians. It also now exempts landscape architects, copy editors, translators and real estate appraisers;
  • Eliminates the arbitrary  limitation on  the numbers of submissions that could be made to one company or publication by writers, photo journalists and cartoonist, to name a few;
  • Creates a new “referral agency” exemption so independent workers in 16 specific industries as diverse as dog walking, event planning and tutoring could now secure gigs from referral agencies, a term that required several paragraphs to define;
  • Expands the already lengthy list of professions that can qualify for the professional services exemption, like producers, narrators and foresters. Interestingly, some professions, like psychologists are exempt, but marriage and family counselors are not…go figure.

So the pundits are saying there will be litigation to sort out the continuing shortcomings in the law. Who is to blame?  I think it is our lawmakers who are failing to recognize the changing world of work, by creating laws that do not work in practice.  .  I think it would be great to hold our lawmakers to  a higher standard; they should draft legislation that is well thought out before hand, considers the unintended consequences and doesn’t need to be significantly revised after passage…something else to consider when we vote this year.

For More Information on AB2257, check here:






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