Prior to the Legislature passing AB 5 by Assemblywoman Lorena Gonzalez (D-San Diego) before adjourning for the year last Friday night, CNPA was able to negotiate an exemption into the bill that will make it easier for freelancers to qualify as independent contractors.

AB 5 codifies the decision in Dynamex Operations West, Inc. v. Super. Ct., (2018) 4 Cal. 5th 903, in which the “ABC test” was adopted to evaluate whether a worker is an employee or independent contractor. The ABC test makes it nearly impossible for freelancers contributing work to newspapers to qualify as independent contractors.

Gov. Gavin Newsom signed the measure yesterday and it becomes effective Jan. 1, 2020.

Categories of freelancers that qualify for the exemption include still photographers, photojournalists, writers, editors and newspaper cartoonists.

Under the exemption, freelancers are limited to providing 35 submissions to a single publication per year.

A “submission” is defined as one or more items or forms of content by a freelance journalist that:

(A) Pertains to a specific event or topic;
(B) Is provided for in a contract that defines the scope of the work; and
(C) Is accepted by the publication or company and published or posted for sale.

Please stay tuned to your Legislative Bulletin in the coming weeks for a more detailed discussion of how AB 5 will apply to newspapers.