Senator Patricia Bates (R-Laguna Niguel) 

Sen. Patricia Bates (R-Laguna Niguel) wants to see some changes to AB 5, California’s “Gig Worker” bill that went into effect Jan. 1. She thinks the law puts unnecessary restrictions on independent contractors in the state and hinders their ability to earn a living. 

The law requires app-based companies such as Uber, Lyft, and DoorDash that rely on independent contractors to reclassify those workers as W-2 employees, in some cases. 

Under California labor law, changing the status of those workers requires companies to provide benefits, such as sick leave, unemployment and workers’ compensation, and more. 

But for many gig workers who prefer the flexibility and freedom freelancing provides, or whose professions are not amenable to 9 to 5 jobs, the new law is more of a burden than blessing. 

The law, Gov. Gavin Newsom signed in September 2019 codified into State law a 2018 California Supreme Court decision handed down in the case of Dynamex Operations West, Inc. v. Superior Court of Los Angeles. 

Since AB 5 passed last year, the bill authored by Assemblymember Lorena Gonzales (D-San Diego) has been under fire from several industries in the state — including media, musicians, artists and translators — who did not get exemptions as other professionals like lawyers, dentists, insurance agents and PR copyrighters did. 

Bates says she introduced SB 867 and SB 868 to help newspapers and freelance journalists continue to operate in California by exempting them from the state’s new anti-independent contracting law, AB 5. 

“Assembly Bill 5 took a sledgehammer approach to an employment problem that required a scalpel, which consequently hammered many Californians who truly wish to remain their own bosses,” Bates said. “The Legislature can begin to fix some of AB 5’s flaws by helping California’s newspapers and journalists continue to operate normally as they have in our state. 

SB 867 would permanently exempt newspaper distributors and carriers from AB 5. While existing law exempts newspaper distributors from AB 5’s requirements for one year, it is not a long-term solution, Bates wrote in the bill. 

SB 868 would exempt freelance journalists from AB 5, which Bates said has severely cut into the incomes of freelancers that contract with various media outlets. Under current law, AB 5 limits freelance journalists to just 35 stories a year if they wish to remain an independent contractor. 

“It has led to many people losing income opportunities,” Bates stated.