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Uber, Lyft Drivers Could Become Employees in California

The California State Senate has advanced Assembly Bill 5, authored by Assemblywoman Lorena Gonzalez Fletcher, to the State Assembly. The bill requires companies like Uber and Lyft to classify their independent contractors as employees. If it passes, it will need to be signed into law by California Governor Gavin Newsom.

AB5 provides protections like minimum wage, overtime, paid parental leave, and workers compensation for these so-called “gig workers” where there were not protections in the past.

The New York Times is reporting that Governor Newsom will sign the bill if it passes as he endorsed it. 

In a statement posted to Twitter, the California Labor Federation said: “This is a huge win for workers across the nation! It’s time to rebuild the middle class and ensure ALL workers have the basic protections they deserve.”

It is likely the bill will pass and if that happens, it would go into effect on January 1, 2020. Then, companies would have to reclassify their contractors as employees. The bill makes the distinction between contractors from employees in the following way

“A person providing labor or services for remuneration shall be considered an employee rather than an independent contractor unless the hiring entity demonstrates that the person is free from the control and direction of the hiring entity in connection with the performance of the work, the person performs work that is outside the usual course of the hiring entity’s business, and the person is customarily engaged in an independently established trade, occupation or business.”

Not everyone is happy with they bill. Adrian Durbin, Senior Director of Communications for Lyft, issued a statement that said lawmakers basically missed how rideshare allows contractors to balance their flexibility with earnings. Saying California lawmakers “missed an important opportunity to support the overwhelming majority of rideshare drivers who want a thoughtful solution that balances flexibility with an earnings standard and benefits. The fact that there were more than 50 industries carved out of AB5 is very telling. We are fully prepared to take this issue to the voters of California to preserve the freedom and access drivers and riders want and need.”

What do you think about the California bill? Do you think gig workers should enjoy the benefits of being employees? Or do you agree with the Lyft staff? Tell us in the comments below. You can also contact us for more information! Feel free to shoot us an email to You can also find us on TwitterFacebook, InstagramLinkedIn, or even connect with us directly on our website!

About the Author: Aisha K. Staggers is a writer, lecturer, political analyst and literary agent. She appears weekly for “Staggers’ State of Things” on the Dr. Vibe Show. Her work has been published by Paper Magazine, AfroPunk, The Spool, GREY Journal, MTV News, HuffPost, Blavity, Atlanta Blackstar, For Harriet, New York Review of Books and a host of other first-run publications and syndicated outlets. Find her on Twitter @AishaStaggers. For more of her work, check out her page here!

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