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San Jose, CA business law attorney for worker classificationIn 2018, the California Supreme Court made a decision that would radically change how workers are classified in California. In the groundbreaking decision regarding Dynamex Operations West, Inc. v. Superior Court of Los Angeles, a new “ABC test” for determining worker classification was announced. According to the test, workers are presumed to be employees unless the hiring agency can establish that the worker is free from the agency’s direct control, he or she performs work that is outside the hiring agency’s normal business, and the worker is involved in an independently established job or business of the same nature as the work he or she performs for the hiring entity. 

California Assembly Bill 5 codified these criteria into law. Now, the California legislature is considering a number of bills that are intended to modify what many people consider to be the overly strict worker classification rules set forth in AB 5. One such amendment is Senate Bill 1039, or “The Independent Worker Rights Act of 2020.”

Controversy Over AB 5 Restrictions

Although proponents of AB 5 have stated that the law is intended to defend workers and guarantee wage protection, many people believe that the worker classification criteria set forth by the bill will do more harm than good – to both employers and workers. The bill has received harsh criticism from “gig economy” companies such as Uber, Lyft, and food delivery businesses. The trucking industry has also expressed serious concern as to the law’s constitutionality as it applies to truck drivers. Trucking companies have received a temporary exemption from AB 5 worker classification rules, but it is still unknown exactly how AB 5 will apply to trucking companies and other businesses that typically hire independent contractors.

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San Jose employment tax lawyer for independent contractorsBy now, you have probably already heard about the massive changes being instituted by California Assembly Bill 5 (AB 5). The legislation codifies California Supreme Court case Dynamex Operations West, Inc. v. Superior Court into law. In this landmark case, the court held that the majority of California workers should be classified as employees and therefore are entitled to receive all of the benefits and protections associated with employee classification. Employers must classify all workers as employees unless the worker meets certain criteria. A number of industries have criticized the new bill, stating that the strict rules will damage businesses as well as current independent contractors’ ability to make a living. California Assembly Bill 1925, which is currently being considered by the state legislature, includes a modification of the current California Labor Code that may provide relief from the strict regulations to certain businesses.

Overview of California AB 5

In order for California workers to be classified as independent contractors, they must meet the three elements listed in the following “ABC Test:”

  • (A) The worker performs services without the hiring agency’s direct control or instruction.
  • (B)  The worker accomplishes tasks that are not within the hiring agency’s usual course of business.
  • (C) The worker is involved in a private business or form of self-employment of the same type as that involved in the work performed for the hiring agency.

Several special interest groups have filed lawsuits against AB 5, saying that these regulations are too strict and that the law is unconstitutional. The trucking industry has been especially vocal in expressing concerns about how the law will affect truck drivers currently classified as independent contractors. Drivers cannot set their own schedule if they are forced to be classified as independent contractors, and trucking groups have argued that this violates the Interstate Commerce Clause of the Constitution. U.S. District Judge Roger Benitez has temporarily exempted trucking companies from AB 5 restrictions.  

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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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San Jose small business payroll tax lawyerCalifornia employers are responsible for withholding payroll taxes, filing returns, and paying state and federal payroll taxes. The laws governing payroll taxes are complex, and as your small business grows, the onerousness of compliance with these tax rules will intensify.

What Are Payroll Taxes?

California has four state payroll taxes. Two are paid by the employer: Unemployment Insurance (UI) and Employment Training Tax (ETT). Two are withheld from workers’ wages: State Disability Insurance (SDI) and Personal Income Tax (PIT). Payroll taxes are administered by the Employment Development Department (EDD).

In addition, employers must handle federal payroll taxes. A small business will be required to pay federal taxes for Medicare, Social Security, and unemployment (FUTA). Also, an employer withholds federal personal income taxes, Medicare, and Social Security from workers’ wages.

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