Senate Labor Committee passes Dynamex bill, newspaper exemptions for freelancers added afterward

AB 5 introduced by Assemblywoman Lorena Gonzalez (D-San Diego), a bill that would codify the California Supreme Court’s holding in Dynamex Operations West, Inc. v. Superior Court and which also includes negotiated exemptions for certain types of workers, passed out of the Senate Labor Committee on Wednesday on a 4-1 vote.

CNPA has been working with the author’s office on language to exempt newspaper carriers and freelancers from the ABC test imposed by the Court in the Dynamex decision.

Two days after the bill was heard in committee, it was amended to include a specific exemption for only freelance writers. Specifically, the test would exempt:

“Work that is performed by a freelance writer who does not provide content to any one publication more than 25 times per year, if that person actually sets all of the following:
(ia) Hours.
(ib) Locations.
(ic) Rate of pay for work provided, except that rate shall be equal to or greater than two times the minimum wage for hours worked.”

CNPA is continuing to work with the author’s office to increase the hard cap of 25 submissions per year to any one publication, eliminating the twice-the minimum wage requirement as well as amending in a specific exemption for newspaper carriers.

Regarding the carrier issue, Gonzalez said she wants to deal with the freelancer issue first before considering an exemption for carriers. When pressed in committee on the potential unfairness of deciding which industries receive exemptions and which do not, she said the exemptions are intended to reflect exceptions that already exist in the law. Newspaper carriers have an existing exemption in California’s Unemployment Insurance regulations.

The bill will next be heard in the Appropriations Committee after the Legislature returns from its break on Aug. 12.