CA Assembly Bill 5 passes: Is the gig economy doomed? (Part 1) [PRO]

California Assembly Bill 5 (AB-5), recently passed by the state Senate, changes the definition of who is an employee and who is a contractor. It is expected to be signed by the governor and is slated to go into effect January 2020. The new legislation, which codifies the 2018 state Supreme Court decision in the controversial Dynamex civil litigation case and clarifies its application, is sending shockwaves through the ecosystem of businesses and workers that constitute the so-called gig economy (that part of the labor market where businesses, including online gig platforms like Uber, engage workers as non-employees).

The main issue, one that has become increasingly fraught over the years, is whether a worker should be classified as either an independent contractor (IC) or an employee (EE) of a business, given the conditions and characteristics of the engagement. Anyone who follows this matter knows that determining the classification of a worker is not a simple matter. The presence (or absence) of laws and interpretations at the national, state and even municipal levels and the promulgated regulations of different governmental entities responsible for taxation, unemployment compensation, worker’s compensation insurance, etc. means a worker may be classified differently depending upon the reference point.

In Part 1 of this three-part Spend Matters PRO series, we will cover the background/context of AB-5 and the essential points of the bill. In Part 2, we will examine different perspectives about the law, and Part 3 will provide our own thoughts and examine some potential implications for contingent workforce managers.

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