In March of 2020, I wrote a Stet article regarding the future of freelancing and AB5, an unpopular bill that was passed in California with the possibility of “copycat bills” spreading to other states. Turns out, that possibility may now be coming to fruition. It all has to do with pretty much eliminating the category of Independent Contractors, from Uber drivers to real estate agents to graphic artists, consultants, photographers to – wait for it -- writers of all stripes – journalists, copywriters, editors, etc., making it mandatory that clients administer what’s called the ABC Test to determine the classification of the indie contractor(s) they hire.
If the Independent Contractor doesn't pass the 3-prong ABC that would classify them as a freelancer, the client must hire them as a full-time employee -- whether or not the client can afford it. Nor will there be any consideration for the Independent Contractor, who may not want to give up their business and become an employee. Should the client-cum-employer incorrectly classify them as Independent Contractors, they could face penalties and a fine. This will not only crush (and in CA, has crushed) the businesses of freelancers, but of small businesses as well. In CA, numerous carve-outs had to be made. It remains a confusing mess.
Most recently, the Biden Administration is aiming to mandate the ABC Test nationwide via the "Protecting the Right to Organize Act" (PRO Act). The legislation containing the ABC Test has passed the House of Representatives and now sits in the Senate, awaiting a vote. At the state-level where the ABC Test has been proposed, (NJ, NY), there was a tremendous uproar, as it threatened the livelihoods of millions of freelancers and small business owners. As a recent editorial in the Wall Street Journal pointed out, the ABC Test is a job killer.
If the ABC Test ruling doesn’t sit well with you, I urge you to contact your U.S. Senators, telling them to oppose the ABC Test in the pending PRO Act.
Additionally, please register your opposition to a pending U.S. Department of Labor regulation that would have the same effect on our freelance business. You can comment at https://www.regulations.gov/.
The pending US Department of Labor regulation contains 6 factors, that would also end our choice to work as freelancers.
The deadline for commenting is December 13.
Spread the word.
In short, the attack on freelancers is occurring at the legislative (Congress) and executive branches (USDOL) of the federal government and in states around the country. The 3-prong ABC Test and the 6 factors in the USDOL regulation are designed to do the same thing: make it too hard to remain a freelancer.
Freelance writing is the life we all have purposefully chosen. We do so fully cognizant of the pitfalls, but none of them are enough to have us give up the way in which we wish to make a living: with the freedom and flexibility that best fits our lifestyle, and that is completely within our rights to enjoy. Any laws or regulations that impinge upon that right deserve to be summarily sent to the trash heap. Or we just may have to change our name to Dependent Writers of Chicago.
Fight for Freelancers USA
Fight for Freelancers USA Press Release
What is the ABC Test?
-- Laura Stigler
Disclaimer: While IWOC in general is opposed to legislative and regulatory actions that are unfavorable to Independent Contractor business operations and that are the antithesis of our mission of helping freelancers succeed, the above article is the opinion of IWOC President Laura Stigler and does not necessarily reflect the stance of all IWOC members.
-- Laura Stigler
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