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San Jose business law attorneyPerhaps no other piece of California legislation has caused as much of a stir in recent years as Assembly Bill 5 (AB5). The bill was signed into law in September 2019 and went into effect on January 1, 2020. AB5, nicknamed the “gig worker bill,” significantly limits when employers can classify workers as independent contractors. Many companies that rely heavily on independent contractors are concerned about how the legislation will affect their ability to stay in business. The trucking industry has been one of the most vocal critics of the bill, and some recent developments may affect how these companies will operate going forward.

California Trucking Association’s Lawsuit Regarding AB5

Assembly Bill 5 instituted an “ABC test” for determining whether a worker can be classified as an independent contractor. According to AB5, all workers must be considered employees unless the following three criteria are met:

  1. The worker is able to carry out services free from the direct control of the company.
  2. His or her work tasks are not part of the company’s usual course of business.
  3. He or she is performing work that is of the same nature as that which he or she is ordinarily engaged in.

Many trucking industry employers and workers are especially concerned with part B of this test. Along with two owner-operators, the California Trucking Association (CTA) filed a lawsuit to fight the new restrictions regarding worker classification. The association argued that the legislation will threaten the livelihood of over 70,000 truckers who are currently classified as independent contractors. The CTA further contends that the new restrictions implemented by AB5 conflict with the Federal Aviation Administration Authorization Act of 1994 and the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Act.

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San Jose, CA small business tax attorney employee classificationCalifornia Assembly Bill 5, also called AB 5, has many business owners wondering how compliance with the new law will affect their business. The bill will significantly limit employers’ ability to classify workers as independent contractors. Many workers will now need to be classified as employees of the company, and they will be entitled to the associated benefits, such as workers’ compensation, minimum wage, overtime, rest breaks and meal periods, protection from anti-discrimination and retaliation laws, and reimbursement for business expenses incurred during the course of their job. Employers will also be required to pay payroll taxes on the workers classified as employees. AB 5 takes effect on January 1, 2020, so employers only have a short period of time to make any changes necessary to stay compliant with the new law.

AB 5 Makes the California Supreme Court Decision Regarding Worker Classification State Law

In 2018, the California Supreme Court announced its decision regarding Dynamex Operations West, Inc. v. Superior Court of Los Angeles. The landmark decision established a test called the “ABC test” for determining whether a worker is an independent contractor or an employee. Under the new rule, a worker can only be classified as an independent contractor if the hiring agency can establish each of the following criteria:

  • The worker is not under the direction and control of the hiring agency with regard to the performance of the work.
  • The worker performs duties that are outside the hiring agency’s typical course of business.
  • The worker is engaged in an independently established occupation, trade, or business of the same nature as the work he or she does for the hiring agency.

California employers are already subject to the rules established by the Supreme Court Decision. The purpose of AB 5 is to clarify exactly how the ruling should be implemented in practice and identify industries that are exempt from the new rules. Doctors, psychologists, dentists, veterinarians, insurance agents, lawyers, accountants, architects, stockbrokers, real estate agents, state-licensed engineers, and private investigators will not be forced to comply with the new worker classification law. Newspaper delivery companies must comply, but they will be given an extra year before being required to classify their paper carriers as employees.

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