California passes new legislation that will kill the freelance writing industry
12/01/2019 // Ethan Huff // Views

Come January 1st, independent contractors in California are going to have a much more difficult time making the same type of living they do right now. That's because a new law will come into effect that redefines the word "employee" in such a way as to basically kill off the so-called "gig economy" in the Golden State.

Assembly Bill 5, or AB 5, will mandate that all working Californians be designated as employees of an employer unless they can show that the work they perform meets a strict set of criteria established by the California Supreme Court, including that their duties aren't part of a company's "core business."

If someone who works for himself is directed by a "boss" to perform his work a certain way, or if this same worker has not established his own independent trader or business outside of the duties directed by his "boss," then these are two other failed criteria that would land this worker in the "employee" category rather than the "independent contractor" category.

The Los Angeles Times says that AB 5 will "raise the bar for companies that otherwise might rely on freelance or contract work." The paper also claims that the bill is "arguably the strongest of its kind in the nation" because it gives "the state and cities the right to file suit against companies over misclassification, overriding the arbitration agreement that many businesses use to shield themselves from worker complaints."

"The new law's supporters point to audits conducted by state employment officials that found almost 500,000 workers were wrongly treated as independent contractors," the Times further reported. "Much of the early legislative debate on the bill centered on low-wage sectors of the California economy."


Freelance writers deserve fair and honest treatment, but will AB 5 really give it to them?

But Rick Moran, writing for PJ Media, disagrees. As an independent contractor himself, Moran worries that the lives and livelihoods of people who contract their work independently in California – this includes Lyft and Uber drivers, by the way – will change dramatically for the worse.

"The bill has nothing to do with 'workers' rights' and everything to do with kowtowing to organized labor, which can't stand the notion that people might actually want to make it without a union looking over their shoulder," Moran contends.

"But in addition to destroying the livelihoods of Uber and Lyft drivers, the law will apparently make the freelance writing industry obsolete," he adds, citing a freelance writer by the name of Amy Lamare who says that in order to keep their lifestyles under AB 5, freelance writers in California "will have to develop a much broader base of editor contacts and likely experience more competition as a result."

Under California's new law, a freelance writer will be required to maintain 35 or fewer writing submissions per outlet, per year. As someone who claims to write nearly 30 submissions per week, Moran recognizes that even though its intent might be good, AB 5 will be a disaster for freelance writers in the interim, potentially putting many of them out of business.

"I suspect the freelancers who support this bill aren't very successful or don't do it to make a living. Otherwise, this is a catastrophe," Moran says. "What this bill does is guarantee the death of most independent journalism in California. And given the animosity toward capitalism and freedom among national Democrats, we might see similar legislation moving through Congress soon."

If you're a freelance writer yourself, be sure to check out this article to learn about the four mistakes that could ruin your writing career.

You can also keep up with the latest news about how more government control over people's lives usually corresponds with increased economic turmoil by visiting

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